I've met the Crown Prince of Holland, drooled and babbled at Ruth Reichl in Gourmet's test kitchens, had Oprah (my neighbor at the time) smile at me as she walked past with her dogs, and talked to Josh Duhamel while he was waiting for his wife, Fergie, to come out of the restroom during intermission at a Broadway play.
But, out of all my run-ins with notables, meeting Guy Fieri
on Monday night may be my favorite one yet. Guy Fieri Food
, Fieri's first solo cookbook, came out on Tuesday, and his people invited me to his book release party Monday night at Food Network's kitchens.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="418" caption="Meeting Guy Fieri at Food Network kitchens."]
People I know seem to love him or hate him. Now that I've met him, talked to him for five minutes and eaten his food, he strikes me as a good guy (or a really fantastic salesman), and his recipes are bangin'. His food was much better than I and the other food writers I knew in attendance had expected it to be.
I always ask author friends what their favorite part of their own book is, or what part was hardest to write. I want to write a cookbook and a book about my family life one day, so I'm truly curious to hear from people who've already gotten published.
Fieri didn't hesitate to pull a copy of his book over and flip to his recipe for Cajun Chicken Alfredo. He told me the story (which is in the book, as well) of how he went to a University of Las Vegas' Harrah Hotel school and had to create a recipe for a class that had him playing the chef on a team of classmates creating a restaurant. His professor never thought he'd pull off Cajun food but the item went on to far outsell everything else on the mock restaurant's menu. When Fieri opened his first restaurant, it was the first dish on his menu. They stopped counting orders after something like 2 million served.
As if on cue, a waiter came by with small bowls of the dish right after Fieri told me about the recipe. I scooped one up, Fieri moved on to talk to someone else and after I took a bite, my brain made that record-skipping noise. It was THAT good. Ask Sassy Radish
, a good Internet friend who I finally met in person at Fieri's party. If she likes it AND I like it, you know it has to be good.
Other great nibbles at the party were these crazy little thinly sliced beef sliders with horseradish and another dish worthy of my recent obsession with meatballs. The cookbook is a biggie, but it's packed with great recipes across a range of tastes. I didn't know Fieri was big on cooking with kids but when he spoke at the party, he mentioned it's a topic near and dear to his heart. He's a California dude, and the state recently declared Sunday the official "Cooking with Kids" day. To that point, there's a whole section in the book on the topic.
I got permission from the nice folks at William Morrow/Harper Collins Publishing to share the recipe for the alfredo. Enjoy, and happy Thursday!
Cajun Chicken Alfredo (link to recipe on FoodNetwork.com
- 4 (5-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.25 lbs)
- 1/2 c. homemade blackening spice rub (recipe in the book) or 1 cup storebought blackening spice (recommended: Paul Prudhomme's Chicken)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 cup roughly chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound fettuccine
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over very high heat.
- Dredge the chicken breasts in the spice mix. Blacken both sides of the chicken, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Transfer chicken to a baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Remove from the oven and slice in strips on the bias.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add garlic and lightly brown it, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the wine. Pour in the heavy cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and chicken slices.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain.
- When the sauce is at the desired consistency, stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, the salt, pepper, and pasta.
- To serve, toss the pasta with the sauce and serve on large rimmed plates. Garnish with 1/4 c. green onions and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
I love sharing details about upcoming tasty trips and adventures, so you won't want to miss a bite. As always, please feel free to chat with me on Twitter, join our group on Facebook and keep up with new posts here by subscribing.