Monday, 23 July 2012

Pasta with Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Sauce

Even when one is blessed with a great man, awesome friends, a good job and a cute cat, life can get a little hectic and leave one's brain feeling like mashed potatoes. Comfort food and vodka-limes are perfect for such occasions. This is usually more of a fall and winter meal, but hey, I had a craving for a rich plate of comfort food. When the world feels like a Kafka novel, sometimes the answer is a big bowl of pasta in a creamy sauce.

I made this sauce with cremini mushrooms, but portobello or shiitake would also be gorgeous with the cream and chicken. Add the Parmigiano Regginao to taste, and use the freshly grated stuff: that’s what takes this dish to a whole new level of yummy.

1 package dry farfalle pasta
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 container fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
A splash of white wine
1 cup cooking cream (15%)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Regianno (or to taste)
A few leaves of fresh basil, chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Preheat the olive oil in a large pan, over medium heat. Cook the pieces of chicken until they are no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside and keep warm. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to package instruction. Add a bit of oil to the pan in which the chicken was cooked, and sauté the garlic until fragrant, for a minute or two. Add the onions, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they released their liquid and brown, about 5 or 7 more minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. 

Wait a couple of minutes for the alcohol to evaporate, then add the cream. Bring to a low boil, and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Reduce the heat to low, add the chicken, Parmigiano Regianno and basil, and blend well. 

Add the pasta and mix with the sauce. Serve generously sprinkled with freshly cracked black pepper and chopped parsley.

If your cream is not heavy enough and won't thicken, add some flour, a scant tablespoon at the time, mixing well between additions until the sauce has the desired consistency. You can also make it saucier by adding a cup of whole milk along with the cream (in which case you will have to add flour).

To turn it into an even more extreme comforting dish know as pasta tetrazzini, transfer the pasta mixed in with the sauce in an oven-proof dish,generously sprinkle with grated mozzarella and put under the broiler until the cheese is melted and golden. The calorie-coma a helping will put you in will make you forget all your worries!

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