A few weeks back at the end of November, I had some free time and was able to browse one of my favorite food blogs, Mark Bittman’s Bitten. I have sung the praises of Bittman before, and when I first started this blog, I often referenced his articles, recipes, videos, and cookbook. As life has gotten busier and my budget tighter, I haven’t been able to experience with Mr. Bittman’s recipes as much as I used to. But I recently stumbled upon a recipe involving pasta that I knew I would have to give a try.

Pasta With Chicken and Mushrooms, Risotto Style

2 tbsp. olive oil, more as needed
1 shallot or small onion, chopped (I used 2.)
1 tbsp. minced garlic  (I used 2 cloves.)
2 cups crimini, shiitake, or button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced (I chose shiitake because it was what was available in the grocery store.)
1/2 pound cut pasta like gemelli or penne, or long pasta broken into bits (I opted for my new favorite mini-penne.)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or water
3-4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
2 boneless chicken thighs, diced
fresh parsley, chopped
freshly grated Parmesan, optional

Put two tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When hot, add shallot, garlic and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy and coated with oil, 2-3 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper, then wine. Stir and let liquid bubble away.

Ladle stock into skillet, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition and every minute or so. When liquid is just about evaporated, add more. Mixutre should be neither soupy nor dry. Keap heat at medium and stir frequently.

Begin tasting pasta 20 minutes after you add it; you want it to be tender, but still with a tiny bit of crunch. When pasta is about 3-5 minutes away from being done, add chicken and stir to combine. Continue to cook until chicken is done- it will be white on inside when cut- and pasta is how you like it. Taste, adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and Parmesan if using, and serve.

This dish was phenomonal, for being so easy to make. With so few ingredients it came out rich, creamy, and decadent. I didn’t even use the white wine, and substituted water instead. It really only did take about a half an hour, even though the directions make it seem like it is a lengthy process to continuously add vegetable broth. In fact, I only needed to add around 1 and 1/2 cups, as opposed to 3 or 4. The meal served two with a few leftover for lunch this week.

This a great, easy meal to make for a weeknight dinner, but easily can be used to serve guests at a dinner party and make it seem like you put a lot of time and effort. Also, it is probably very easy to fool around with flavors- get creative and add or substitute different spices, vegetables, or meats to this dish.

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