Italian Night

By Rob Agee of Madison’s Cafe


Combined are the primo, secondo and contorno courses onto one dish, which serves four.


Cacio e pepe
(pasta with cheese and pepper from Roman cuisine) It is simple and fast. This dish exemplifies the complexity of pan sauce precision. Once your water is boiling, it is a five-minute preparation.

8 ounces thin spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cracked fresh pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Bring a heavy pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the spaghetti until al dente. (After it comes to a boil, I cook it for exactly five minutes less than the package instructions).

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with the olive oil. Add the cracked pepper, and gently sauté for a couple of minutes.

3. With tongs, remove the boiled pasta and place right into the skillet (do not drain the pasta water). Swirl to coat with olive oil and pepper. Add cheese and continue swirling pasta to coat with cheese. Add a tablespoon or two of the hot pasta water and continue to coat the pasta. Serve immediately.


Chicken Milano
(Try it with rustic bread, such as the new artisan bread we serve at the restaurant.)

1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chicken broth, divided
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and 3/4 cup of chicken broth. Increase to medium heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Add cream, and bring to a boil while stirring. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Be careful do not scorch this
cream sauce dish.

2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil and sauté chicken. Press on chicken occasionally with a slotted spatula. Cook for about 4 minutes per side or until the meat feels springy and is no longer pink inside. Transfer to a board, cover and keep warm. Discard the fat from skillet.

3. In the same skillet, over medium heat, bring 1/4 cup chicken broth to a boil stirring the pan juices. Reduce slightly and add to the cream sauce. Stir in basil and adjust seasonings to taste.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, transfer to a bowl and toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the sauce.

5. Cut each chicken breast into 2 to 3 diagonal slices. Reheat the sauce gently if needed. Serve after or with the cacio e pepe


Fresh Vegetables
2 yellow and green squash
red pepper, sliced
red onion, sliced
1 pound fresh asparagus,
1/2 pound sliced porcini mushrooms
fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

I have Americanized this section for flavor and simplicity. Sautée the squash, asparagus, red pepper, onions and sliced porcinis with butter and some nice chicken stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. You could also add fresh garlic, but it’s not necessary.