Books, Cooking, Food

ETWYRT: Mackey Chandler

Mirror-posted from The Otherwhere Gazette

Family LawI’ve had the pleasure over the last couple of years of reading Mac Chandler’s two series, and watching him grow by leaps and bounds as an author. While April, his debut novel, was a very strong story with a terrific female lead who… well, I suggest you read it. It was rough but has been polished into the gem it should be, revealing the beauty I saw in it on first reading. Now that I’ve said that, and you can tell I’m a fan, I’m going to say that his second series, which begins with Family Law, is even better. It’s a superb tale of science fiction, but mostly it’s about people, and what makes family, family. Love, not DNA relationship, is the tie that binds. april cover

When I asked Mac for a recipe or dish for this series, he suggested that there was a meal in April which would work for it. I know that food comes up a lot in that series – it has to, when you are dealing with teenagers who have been genetically altered to be stronger and faster. But Mac doesn’t just make his food fuel, he writes an appreciation of meals and cooking into his work. So I was tickled to be able to create this for April, and her author.

Fettucine Alfredo with Pinenuts

I prepared this meal two ways – with and without pasta, as I am currently avoiding carbs. Served over a bed of sauteed kale with bacon, it was delicious and I didn’t miss the pasta. The First Reader’s comment was that it was very good, and I can make it again any time I feel like it.

I prepared our meal with chicken breasts, although you could go meatless if you want this as a side dish.

Alfredo with pinenuts
Alfredo, pinenuts, and more parmesan cheese because cheese!
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3-4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • sprigs of thyme (optional)
toasting pinenuts
Toast the pinenuts first and set them aside. They do not need oil in the pan.

In a heavy cast-iron skillet, heat the coconut oil over med-high heat and sear the chicken breasts. Set the oven to 350 deg F. Once the breasts are seared, tuck the garlic and thyme around them and pour the wine over them. Put the skillet in the oven. They will take 20-25 minutes to finish cooking through, depending on the size of your breasts. When you check with the meat thermometer, spoon the liquids over the breasts. When they are done, remove from oven and set aside. Slice into medallions just before serving.

cooking chicken
Chicken should be cooked to an internal temp of 160-165 deg F
  • 1 small packet (mine was 2.5 oz) pinenuts
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 c shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 stick (4 oz) butter
  • cloves of garlic (I used 4-5)
  • grated nutmeg

Before putting the oil in the skillet earlier, I had toasted the pinenuts. They are delicate and will burn so keep an eye on them and keep them moving.

alfredo sauce recipe
Making the sauce: cheese and cream and butter, oh my!

Once toasted, remove to another dish and start the oil for the chicken. In a saucepan, heat the cream to a boil with the garlic cloves over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the butter. When it is melted, whisk in the cheese. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens. If you want, you can remove the garlic cloves – I left them in.

Cook the fettucine to al dente. The sauce and breasts will make enough to serve 4, so a 1 lb package of pasta is about right for a meal portion.

for the kale:

  • shredded or chopped kale leaves
  • three slices of bacon, snipped with kitchen shears into 1/4″ wide strips (across the short way!)
  • balsamic or rice wine vinegar
cooking kale
A lot of kale. This was enough for two of us, I would have used the big stock pot for a family meal.

In a heavy-bottomed stock pot or large saucepan, fry the bacon until crisp. Dump the kale in, swishing it around and turning it until it is coated in the bacon grease. Cover the pan. In a few minutes, repeat this process. Sprinkle with vinegar to taste (I usually use 1-2 tbsp). Cover again, and keep doing this until kale is bright green and melted (looks almost transparent) which will take about 15 minutes.

Kale and bacon
This is the kale at doneness. Bright green and wilted.

On the plate, arrange the kale, then the pasta if desired, and 1/2 a chicken breast, sliced. Pour the sauce over, grate a little nutmeg on, then sprinkle the toasted pinenuts over. You can toss the whole thing together in the pot and serve family style if you aren’t in the mood to be fancy! The acidity of the kale offsets the rich alfredo sauce very nicely, and the pinenuts offer a little crunch and a sweet, nutty flavor.

low-carp alfredo over kale
This meal works beautifully as a low-carb with no pasta entree.

You can find the index page for Eat This While you Read That! here: