Mushrooms & Toasted Pasta

Posted on 03/09/2010. Filed under: Dinner |

Yeah so I got kinda busy last week.  I actually made this last Wednesday but was having too much fun with my friends that night to sit down and blog.  And then  I had work, so this got put on the back burner (ha! a cooking pun!).  I was surfing around on Tastespotting, as I was at a creative road block.  I had no idea what to make.  When I came upon this recipe, I thought, oh what the hell?  I like pasta, I like mushrooms, and it looked easy enough, why not try it?

I decided to add a shallot and chicken to the dish to give it some mild onion flavor and some heft with the chicken.  This was also to stretch it out, and I kinda suspected my guys wouldn’t be all that interested in a meatless dish.  I also doubled the recipe as I was feeding six people: my friends Dan, Matt, Brandon & Morgan, my mom, and myself. 

I took three chicken breasts and drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them on both sides with garlic powder, put them on a foil-lined baking sheet (with a lip, I can’t be having grease all over my oven unlike some moron in this month’s Rachel Ray, who baked off meatballs on a flat baking sheet and started a grease fire in her oven) and baked for 30 minutes at 350*.  I then began with the sauce: I cooked 16 oz. of pre-sliced mushrooms in a couple tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil for a couple minutes and then added the thinly-sliced shallot, one huge clove of minced ELEPHANT garlic, minced fresh parsley, dried oregano and a cup of dry white wine (I used a California Sauvignon Blanc I found for $6.50 at Kroger).  I let it all come to a simmer and when the chicken was done, I cut into bite-sized pieces and stirred it in with the mushroomy sauce. 

The recipe calls for macaroni, but BOR-RING.  I used 16 oz. of Cavatappi (spirals).  I melted a couple tablespoons of buttah with a tablespoonish of olive oil and added the pasta to toast.  I stirred away, making sure the pasta was getting brown but not burned.  I then moved the pasta to already-simmering four cups of chicken stock (the last of my stock, so that’s three meals made with stock from one chicken.  Economics, y’all, times is tough!).  The liquid didn’t cover the pasta and I was afraid it’d take FOREVER to cook, so I kept adding water.  Otherwise dinner would have been at 10pm and not 7:30ish.  When the pasta was finally done, I drained off a little of the liquid (a lesson learned from the Bolognese Disappointment…if you want a thicker sauce, use less liquid…duh!), and tossed the pasta with the mushrooms and chicken.  I removed the pot from the heat and added heavy cream and buttload of parmesan (yes it’s an actual measurement…in my head).

Everyone dug in and was in heaven.  The wine provided a really beautiful flavor to the creamy sauce, lightening up what could have been something heavy.  The pasta was perfectly al dente.  The shallot was a really nicely mild flavor and the herbs just complemented it all so well.  And the pasta being toasted?  A really great nuttiness without actually adding something like pine nuts.  The mushrooms made the dish more hearty and meaty along with the lightly-garlicked chicken.  (Yes, it’s a word, “garlicked.”  I just made it up.)  Everyone just loved it.  Even eating the leftovers has been nearly just as good.

However, now that I’ve made this, here’s what I would have done differently.  I would have started the pasta first because the sauce with the ‘shrooms and the chicken got a little cold waiting on the pasta.  I wouldn’t have added the fresh parsley as early as the recipe says to, I would add it at the end along with the cheese and cream.  And I might use a smaller pasta next time.  Otherwise, it was pretty spot-on.  A nice dish in the transition to spring.

Bon appetit, y’all!

(Up next, I conquer Irish food for St. Patrick’s Day…Lord help me)

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