From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is a lovely week night meal. The recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated and, as you might suspect, it is perfectly balanced and makes a delicious dinner. The only problem I have with this dish is the time it takes to prepare. I mention that because I don't won't you to get halfway through the recipe and only then discover you are not dealing with a 30 minute wonder. My old and addled brain has come to associate skillet-type dishes with speed, but the chopping required to assemble this one will slow you down. Plan on spending at least 20 minutes in intimate contact with your chef's knife and chopping block. View it as quality time because the finished dish is worth at least that much effort. I suspect any short tubular pasta could be used to make this this dish. I used penne because I had no ziti in the pantry, and I'm quite comfortable swapping the two pastas in my cooking. I know that many of you will quickly alter this recipe to your own taste. If you are in that group, I have a thought or two to share with you. Do not eliminate the sun-dried tomatoes. The tomatoes and red-pepper flakes add a need punch to what would be a bland meal without them. It is also important to follow the recommended cooking time for the chicken. The chicken is wonderful when it hits that just done mark, but it becomes dry, flavorless and stringy if you allow it to go past that point. I really enjoy this dish and make it a couple of times a year. I think those of you who try this recipe will be really pleased with the results. Here's how this skillet dish is made.
Skillet Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Cook's Illustrated
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch squares
Table salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or olive oil), divided use
1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces ziti or penne (2-1/2 cups)
2-3/4 cups water
1-2/3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
12 ounces broccoli florets (4 cups)
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 ounce grated Asiago cheese (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1) Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken in a single layer and cook for 1 minute without stirring. Stir chicken and continue to cook until most, but not all, of the pink color has disappeared and chicken is lightly browned around the edges, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.
2) Add remaining tablespoon of oil, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to skillet. Return skillet to medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until onion is softened, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3) Add ziti, 2 cups of the water, and broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until liquid is very thick and syrupy and almost completely absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes.
4) Add broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and remaining 3/4 cup water. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until broccoli turns bright green and is almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
5) Uncover and return heat to high. Stir in cream, Asiago, and reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and continue to simmer, uncovered, until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing more grated Asiago at table, if desired. Yield: 4 generous servings.
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