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Archive for the ‘Best Italian Chef’ Category

3rd Annual Best Italian Chef Winner

Written on March 5, 2014

Congratulations Isabel and thank you to all of the fans and supporters for voting Orecchiette with Scallops and Leeks onto our features menu later this year. Here’s the recipe for you to recreate this winning dish at home:

Best Italian Chef Orrechiete

Recipe & Instructions
Drizzle olive oil
1 leek, cleaned & sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste
¼ cup white wine
½ cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb orecchiette
1 lb sea scallops

Cook pasta al dente. In a sauté pan, drizzle olive oil and sauté leeks for a couple of minutes, add garlic, red pepper, salt, pepper, wine, broth and cream. Simmer to thicken. Salt and pepper scallops and sear in hot pan with oil. Mix pasta and sauce, place in dish, top with scallops.

A special congratulations goes to our runners up for submitting wonderful dishes that you can also try at home:
2nd place – Pollo di Trifone
3rd place – Garlic Shrimp & Shells
4th place – Pesto Cavatappi with Ricotta, Peas & Prosciutto
5th place – Creamy Shrimp Saffron Risotto with Wilted Baby Spinach
6th place – Fettuccine Fanelli

We also want to thank those of you who voted. The ten randomly selected winners below will receive a $50 gift card:

Sarah Maggitt
Johnnie Saunders
Sowmya Nanjaiah
Ruth Pelfrey
Brian DeCataldo
Maggie May
Pamela Bolin
Dee Heszler
Bob Edland
Brian Roe

    If you’ve won, please email us (from the email address that links to your Facebook and Best Italian Chef vote) at with your name and mailing address. Stay tuned for our 4th annual Best Italian Chef contest this fall!


    Best Italian Chef Finalist: Fettuccine Fanelli

    by John F. - Pflugerville, TX | Written on February 17, 2014

    Fettuccine Fanelli is a different take on Fettuccine Alfredo. While an Alfredo sauce is thick and creamy, I wanted a thinner more flavorful sauce that delicately coheres to the pasta. A wonderful combination of shallots, garlic, baby spinach, white wine, heavy cream, chicken, and mushrooms build an elegant yet hardy and satisfying dish sure to please the palate of the masses.

    Best Italian Chef Fettuccine Fanelli

    Vote for this dish!

    As far back as I can remember food has been an integral part of growing up with my Mexican-Italian family in El Paso, TX. Every family gathering signifies Thanksgiving for us where we are thankful for the love and bond that we share while at the same time indulging in fine cuisine. My momma (Nona to the grandchildren) is the Executive Chef of our family’s home kitchen and has become a master of infusing food from both the Mexican and Italian cultures. She taught me that there were no rules and creativity is what makes cooking a form of art. My love for cooking made it easy to soak up what Nona has taught me and has stayed with me for many years. For the past 22 years, I have lived in Austin, TX and have been blessed with a whole new family consisting of my closest friends. I quickly became the one hosting the gatherings sharing with my friends the love that Nona has taught me. I have become the Executive Chef of my home kitchen now – well at least until Nona comes to town!

    6 oz. Barilla fettuccine noodles
    2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    2 boneless (trimmed) chicken thighs
    1 cup quartered crimini mushrooms
    1 medium shallot, finely chopped
    1 cup whole baby spinach
    1 1/2 ounces of finely chopped basil
    2 cloves of minced garlic
    1 cup of heavy whipping cream
    1/2 cup of dry white wine
    1/2 cup shaved parmigiano-reggiano
    1 whole head of garlic
    Sea salt
    Black pepper

    Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, stirring occasionally.
    Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
    Heat extra virgin olive oil on high in a large sauce pan.
    Sear both sides of the chicken thighs and remove from the pan onto a clean cutting board.
    Add the garlic and shallots.
    De-glaze the pan with the white wine.
    Add the heavy whipping cream, mushrooms, and spinach to the pan.
    Dice the semi-cooked chicken thighs and add to the sauce.
    Simmer on high for about 15 minutes stirring occassionally.
    Sauce is ready when it coats the back of a spoon (season to taste).
    Roasted Garlic
    Pre-heat the oven to 385 degrees.
    Slice the tips off of the head of garlic, drizzle olive oil over the top and wrap in foil.
    Roast for about 20 minutes in the oven until the cloves are tender.
    Combine with Barilla pasta in a large serving dish and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Coarsely shave parmigiano-reggiano over the dish. Serve with focaccia bread, slathered with roasted garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

    Best Italian Chef Finalist: Orecchiette with Scallops and Leeks

    by Isabel M. - Poughkeepsie, NY | Written on February 17, 2014

    Subtle flavors come together to create a rich luxurious pasta dish. With simple preparation, you can feel special while dining on this creamy, flavorful scallop and pasta creation.

    Best Italian Chef Orrechiete
    Vote for this dish!

    I love to entertain and have dinner parties often. One evening, we had friends coming over and I almost forgot! So I made a challenge: to come up with a dish using ingredients I already had on hand. I didn’t want to go to the store. Luckily, I am a freezer full kind of girl! That’s how Orecchiette with Scallops and Leeks was born.

    Drizzle Olive Oil
    1 Leek, cleaned & sliced
    2 Cloves garlic, sliced
    1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
    Salt & pepper to taste
    1/4 Cup white wine
    1 /2 Cup chicken broth
    1 Cup heavy cream
    1 Pound Orecchiette
    1 Pound Sea Scallops

    Cook pasta al dente. In a sauté pan, drizzle olive oil and sauté leeks for a couple of minutes, add garlic, red pepper, salt, pepper, wine, broth and cream. Simmer to thicken. Salt and pepper scallops and sear in hot pan with oil. Mix pasta and sauce, place in dish, top with scallops.

    Best Italian Chef Finalist: Pollo di Trifone

    by Tim D. - Centennial, CO | Written on February 17, 2014

    My great-grandparents were both named after the patron saint of Alessano, Italy. Trifone and Trifona DiGiorgi. Their marriage was prearranged at birth. In 1914, Trifone traveled to Albany, New York by way of Ellis Island to start his new American life. Trifona stayed behind while waiting for Trifone to earn enough money to send for her. Two years later, Trifona traveled with her three children over the ocean to meet up with her husband and begin her new life in America.

    Best Italian Chef Pollo de Trifone
    Vote for this dish!

    As a new American family, my great-grandparents celebrated southern Italian cuisine with dishes like the one presented here as passed down through the family to me. I learned from my aunt Rose to keep Italian cooking simple so that the flavor of the fresh ingredients comes through. That approach to Italian cooking is found in this dish.

    2 large chicken breasts
    ½ cup parmesan reggiano cheese, roughly grated
    ½ cup fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
    ½ cup of ricotta cheese
    2 prosciutto slices, thin
    4 fresh (medium- sized) basil leaves
    1 large basil leaf, julienned
    1 egg white
    1 cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
    Fresh ground pepper
    Sea salt

    Prepare the ingredients by placing each one in a separate bowl. Clean and separate the two large chicken breasts. Using a chef’s knife, cut a horizontal slice into the side of the breast by cutting approximately 80% of the way through the breast (so that it may be stuffed). Place about two tablespoons of ricotta cheese inside the breast. Add half of the mozzarella to cover the inside of the chicken breast. Lay one slice of prosciutto and one or two basil leaves inside the breast. Add ½ of the parmesan cheese as the final ingredient in the breast. Fold the top of the chicken breast over the ingredients to close the chicken. Coat the entire chicken breast with egg white and then gently roll the breast through the bread crumbs until the chicken breast is evenly covered on both sides. Repeat steps for second breast. Place chicken breasts into a medium pan which has been seasoned with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 45 minutes. Garnish with the strands of basil. Add sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and serve.