This is the greatest restaurant ever, momma.
There are some points you just can’t argue against.
Last week, Landry & I took a Mommy-Daughter day. A field-trip with her preschool class to a local farm, flu shots (because I am the epitome of fun), half-marathon packet pickup, and a trip to the Lego Store was capped off with a super late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.
Side note: The look of wonder on a sweet 4-year-old’s face after she discovers what’s hiding inside the fried mac & cheese far surpasses the magic of any five Christmas mornings.
My very very favorite dish is the Chicken Bellagio. It is a wonderfully delicious calorie- and sodium-bomb of perfection. You have a half pound (or more) of pesto spaghetti topped with fried chicken cutlets, topped with prosciutto, topped with a simple arugula salad.
For $15, it feeds us 2 bigs and 1 little twice. But you can shave the calories and sodium and price down quite a bit at home without a lot of effort.
And you don’t have to put on pants or mascara to do it (though I do recommend wearing pants while cooking the chicken). (You know.) (Because splatters.)
You have three components here: the pasta, the chicken, and the salad. Put the pasta into the boiling water at the same time as you start cooking the chicken and with the exception of quickly tossing some salad greens with some olive oil, lemon juice, and parmesan, everything should finish up at the same time.
Copycat Chicken Bellagio
A copycat recipe for the Cheesecake Factory's Chicken Bellagio. Make it at home and skimp on the calories, not the flavor.
- For the pasta:
- 8 oz uncooked thin spaghetti
- 1/3 cup pesto
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup cream, optional*
- For the chicken:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
- 1 cup panko
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
- For the salad:
- 4 slices prosciutto
- Your favorite dark salad greens (I had a baby spinach-kale mix on hand)
- Olive oil
- Lemon wedges
- *I was looking to lighten the dish and didn't want anything as heavy as cream in the recipe. The restaurant obviously uses a cream-based sauce - so if you want to go big, stir in a bit of heavy cream.
- Bring water to boil in a large pot.
- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp water and pour into a plate or small pan (I used an 8-inch sq baking dish).
- Mix together the panko, Italian seasoning, a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and cheese in another plate or small pan (I used a dinner plate).
- Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally and place in a large zipper bag (or between sheets of plastic wrap) and lightly pound a few times to even and thin them out (thin enough so that they cook quickly but not thin enough that you can see through them).
- Add flour to the zipper bag and shake to coat the chicken.
- Shake off the excess flour and dip the chicken into the egg mixture, flipping to coat.
- Press the chicken into the panko mixture and flip and press again. Transfer to another plate or pan and set aside, repeat for the remaining 3 pieces of chicken.
- Put the pasta into the boiling water at the same time you start the first two pieces of chicken in the frying pan.
- Cook the chicken two pieces at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side, decreasing the heat a little if it browns too quickly.
- Before draining the pasta, pull out ~1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
- Drain the pasta and return to the pan with half of the pasta water and the pesto. Toss until a creamy sauce forms, adding additional pasta water, as necessary.
- Divide the pasta between 4 plates and top with the chicken cutlets as they come out of the pan. Season with additional salt and pepper.
- Top each piece of chicken with a slice of prosciutto.
- In a medium bowl, toss 4 handfuls of salad greens with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a squeeze of 2 lemon wedges, and a small handful of grated parmesan.
- Divide between the 4 plates and enjoy. Without mascara. Pants also optional.
Yields: 4 generous servings
Estimated time: 45 minutes