We’re starting off the New Year with Egypt over at MENA Cooking Club, and what a great start that is. I was really excited this month, since Egyptian food just tastes so good, I knew I was going to love anything I chose. I went with the main dish, but instead of the usual ground beef version, I used chicken. This is a really popular recipe in Egypt, and one that’s always on the table during Ramadan. If you like chicken Alfredo then you’re going to love this dish, it’s so good.
One of the things that I’ve learned from exploring food around the MENA region is that sometimes you find things you don’t expect, and it’s always because of the impact immigrants held in the land they were, which in the end led to being part of the culture. Regardless of how different we all are, somehow we all find a way to mesh together in the end, it’s pretty beautiful. This classic Egyptian favorite got its roots from the Italians that once lived in the land. This is a popular dish not just in Egypt, but all over the Middle East. All though Middle Eastern dishes may have roots in one land, they’re usually ate all over the region.
4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded (I make mine this way)
400 grams penne pasta, cooked
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 tablespoon tomato sauce
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock (from the recipe above)
1 teaspoon salt
1. In a large saute pan on medium heat, add butter, when melted, add flour a little time at a time, whisking continuously so it doesn’t lump. Cook for a few minutes, then carefully adds the milk, cream, stock and salt, whisking. Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to low, whisking to thicken. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, whisking at all times. Set the pan aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, add the pasta and ladle half of the Bechamel on top and mix.
3. In an oven proof casserole dish, add the sauce, and brush all over the bottom. Add half of the pasta mixture, then sprinkle the cheese and chicken on top. Add the last layer of the pasta and carefully pour the remaining Bechamel sauce on top. Sprinkle the top with pepper.
4. Place the dish into the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before servings.
Yields: 6 servings