I know the budget conscious among you might question the use of saffron here, but there’s a reason for that! This is a special saffron chicken and mushroom cream fettuccine recipe in honour of all the mums out there, and whose mum doesn’t deserve to be a little spoilt on Mother’s Day?
It’s likely that if you like to cook, you have a little box of expensive saffron beauties sitting in the cupboard waiting for a “special occasion”. If that’s the case, then they deserve to be used. Sitting in a cupboard and never seeing the light of day is like boarding up your windows to the sun… the sun is still there, you just aren’t enjoying it. Saffron is there to be enjoyed.
While it is important to use saffron, it is also important to understand where it comes from and why it is the most expensive spice in the world. For those who haven’t tried saffron, it has a flavour that many say is hard to describe. It is mild in flavour and shouldn’t be paired with big bold flavours – it’s subtlety is the key to its success. It has been referred to as floral and honey-like yet is completely distinct from those flavours.
But why the expense? Well, the saffron threads are actually the dried stigmas of a crocus flower which is found on the Saffron Crocus plant. As each flower only produces 3 stigmas, and each saffron crocus plant only grows 4 flowers, then for a pinch of saffron (20-25 threads) to be used in your cooking, these threads have been harvested from 7 flowers which have come from 2 bushes. That’s a lot of effort for a pinch – but it is worth it.
The best way to use saffron is to steep it in warm (not hot) liquid to allow the threads to rehydrate and release their flavour. Chomping down on a thread isn’t going to yield great flavour results – that’s just not how saffron works.
For this special Mother’s Day recipe, I’m making the pasta from scratch using Philips new Pasta and Noodle Maker which includes an egg and saffron steeped water in the mix. Thanks to the pasta maker, I had saffron pasta made from scratch and ready to cook in 12 minutes.
As an Italian-pasta-by-hand sort of girl I was completely skeptical of this machine, but in January Philips asked me to create a number of gluten free and low gluten recipes using this pasta machine for their website*. I worked with it intensively for 3 weeks and I have to say, that while I may still choose to make pasta from scratch during the weekend for the sheer joy of having my hands swathed in flour – I may not be buying dried pasta for a midweek meal ever again.
Never fear, if you don’t have the Philips Pasta and Noodle Maker, you can of course still make the gorgeous saffron and mushroom cream sauce and stir it through plain cooked fettuccine!
*If you’d like to check out the recipes I created and photographed for Philips, then head to the Philips Australia website and scroll to the bottom of that page.
Saffron, Chicken and Mushroom Cream Sauce
- 200ml thickened cream (aka heavy cream)
- A pinch of saffron threads
- 2 chicken thighs, cut into 2.5cm pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 spring onions (aka thin scallions)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 5 swiss brown mushrooms cleaned and sliced
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Toasted almonds, to serve
Heat the cream till warm in a microwave, then add the saffron thread and stir to combine. Leave for 5-10 minutes to steep.
Heat a large heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the chicken pieces and cook until the chicken has browned. Remove and set aside the chicken, then wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.
Add the butter to the clean pan and when foamy, sauté the onion, garlic and chilli until translucent and fragrant. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the saffron creme, chicken pieces and the lemon zest. Simmer on low until the cream is smooth and velvety. Remove the pan from the heat and add cooked and drained fettuccine. Stir to combine, then serve immediately with chopped toasted almonds and spring onion slices.
Saffron Fettuccine – Philips Pasta Maker
- 250g Type '00' Pasta flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 egg
- 35-55ml water (depending on egg size)
- 1 pinch saffron threads
Fit the fettuccine attachment to the Philips Pasta and Noodle Maker, then Press the "egg pasta" setting. Add the flour and salt to the machine and then press "liquid" setting. The machine will tell you how much liquid to add - it should be roughly 100ml.
Crack the egg into the liquid cup and then work out how much additional water you will need to make up the 100ml (do not add it yet). First, place the remaining water into a small bowl and heat it till warmed. Add the saffron threads to steep for 5-10 minutes, then add the liquid it to the egg and stir till well combined.
Place the lid on the machine and turn it on. Then, in a steady stream add the saffron egg mixture through the top vent. A few minutes later, the machine will begin extruding saffron fettuccine.
Heat a pot of salted water over the stove until boiling, then add the fettuccine and cook for 3-4 minutes until al dente.