Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms

DSCF7733 (640x427)And now, I’m eating like a pauper. My body sometimes can’t take the transformations by resorting to quick pizza slices (Vegan) and sandwiches (Turkey) while I’m out or just before my training. I’ve kept dimsum at bay, and the rich, creamy, spicy and buttery Indian muttons and the heavy Chinese soy and bean sauces only for serious celebrations.  From having a luxurious cut of beef or porkloin, I was moved down to a diminutive slice of chicken breast, a bunch of greens and a small heap of pasta; unfathomable! I had never thought I would switch to this diet, and I was caught off-guard.

I encountered this dish in a steakhouse last summer when a former HS classmate visited Toronto. We went to a steakhouse, and as American as he was, went for a good old fashioned cut of steak and nachos. I’ve had several encounters with steakhouses here in the city and seeing another cut makes me avoid it all the more; moreso now with the health scare. I’ve had done pub style nachos  a long time ago and wouldn’t or can’t even touch one.  Extreme exhaustion also got the best of me; coming from work and travelling  farther up north to the suburbs to meet him was menacing. Nevertheless, it had to happen. It had been close to 25 years since we had seen each other, thus, I didn’t really mind the long travel.  So, to bring my nerves down and put me on a relaxing mode, I resorted to a lighter meal and a bottle of beer instead.

This is my rendition of that dish.  It was originally cooked with Portobello mushrooms. I used regular white mushrooms and whole wheat pasta for a healthier alternative. Mushrooms are always on sale in the oriental store and I can never go wrong by adding either herbs, a pinch of salt & pepper or wine with any kind of mushrooms. The pasta is given; tomato, pesto or even with just a drizzle of an expensive olive oil does wonders. The end product almost always tastes delicious.

I marinated the chicken breast to my liking; heavy on Pimenton and honey. The one I had was tad bland, and just had a hint of wine.  I couldn’t remember though if it was seared or grilled. My former HS classmates stared at me when I turned the dish up and about and even around.  Told them it was work related.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Whole Wheat Spaghetti
  • Olive oil
  • Whiskey
  • Mushrooms, quartered
  • Garlic, minced to a paste
  • Onions, chopped
  • Pimenton Dulce (or Paprika)
  • Honey
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Truffle Salt
  • Condensed milk
  • Compound butter
  • Parmesan (condiment)

Chicken Marinade:

  • Pimenton Dulce
  • Honey
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic

Marinate the chicken breast overnight. Pre-heat a sauté pan and sear the breast on both sides. Transfer to a roasting pan and finish off in a medium-high 350’C pre-heated oven ( really depends how big the breast is).

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Add a little more olive oil and sauté the onion and mushrooms.  Deglaze with whiskey and add a little chicken stock (or pasta water) to form a pan-sauce. Scoop a little minced garlic into the pan.

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Meanwhile, cook some spaghetti based on box instructions. Remove and set aside. Save some pasta water for the sauce.

Add the pasta (and water) and continue sautéing. Add a small amount of compound butter into the pan and finish off with condensed milk (or cream). Season to taste. Remove the chicken breast from the oven and let it rest, tinted (save the drippings to be added  into the pan-sauce).

Scoop the pasta into a dish and set the chicken atop the plate. Sprinkle with Truffle salt, and garnish with slivers of green onion.

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Pasta in Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce

The grocery I usually visit just started renovations to catch-up to the ever increasing and growing supermarket competition. It was about time. The aisles were adjusted to accommodate more shoppers and additional shelves, freezers, and fridge displays were installed in the premises. Now, that’s a plus for a choosy (cheap) shopper like me! The store’s overall shopping experience has been stuck in the 80’s, 70’s even; dark, narrow aisles with nearly empty shelves and very limited choices. There’s another grocer just across my apartment; selling just the necessary and basic stuff, but with the quality and kind of food I look for, it definitely doesn’t make the grade. I go there just for emergencies; things I might have left out during my dedicated afternoon in the grocery, and for bottled water. Moreover, service at the front moves at snail’s pace. I don’t have that luxury nor the patience to wait on long queues. I’ll take my business somewhere else if that’s the case.

The vegetable and fruit counters were replenished with fresher and more vibrant looking colours of the sun and the rainbow which just makes you want to buy more just for nothing else. The grocery also carries a variety of fresh mushrooms which I really love to have whenever I come there. They are also sold by the pound which is more favourable for me knowing that I can’t finish a package of just one kind in a couple of days or so. I can pick-up several of each and cook each one differently from the other. Anyway I took three kinds and while proceeding home, thought of a recipe I do miss.

I’ve always wanted to cook a Spaghetti & Mushroom combination dish without using heavy cream, milk and eggs or making a more potent Bechamel Sauce as commonly practiced and used in many Italian-American recipes. If it were Carbonara, I would indeed load it up since there’s already bacon and bacon fat pan-fried prior to cooking, which by themselves already pack a punch to the belly. I’ve also seen many pouring heavy cream directly into the sauté pan when making this one. I feel that would be too heavy to the bite for just pasta and mushrooms. I came up with this one as a result.

Ingredients:

• Olive Oil
• 1/3 of a box of Spaghetti
• Assorted Mushrooms (White Button, Cremini, Oyster)
• 2% Evaporated Milk (Condensed)
• 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
• Cheese: Parmesan/Mozzarella/Cheddar
• Compound Butter (Garlic, Wine, Onion Powder)
• Salt & Ground Black Pepper
• A Squeeze of Lemon

Optional: Fresh Chopped Italian Parsley/White Wine

Start a pot of heavily salted water and drop the Spaghetti. Follow the instructions indicated on the package for the required time.

Start chopping the mushrooms and mincing the garlic while waiting for the Spaghetti to reach desired doneness.

Heat the sauté pan with Olive oil and butter and stir-fry the garlic until aromatic. Slowly add the mushrooms and toss until cooked. Add some of the pasta water followed by the Spaghetti when done. Stir some more until everything comes together, and pour in the condensed milk until the desired creaminess is reached. Start adding the Mozzarella or Parmesan Cheese, and squeeze some lemon juice to give it a final shine.

Plate and garnish with chopped Italian Parsley and drizzle with Olive oil before serving.

I used chopped green onions as garnish. White wine can be added after sauteing the onion and garlic.

 

 

 

 

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