Wednesday, January 20, 2016

One-Skillet Alfredo Pasta

We've enjoyed this quick and tasty meal twice in the past two months.  It comes together quickly and makes everyone happy.  Just serve a good salad or some green veggie on the side.  I like to use a large nonstick soup pot for this.  I don't have many uses for a nonstick soup pot but I like to use it for this, because the pasta can stick pretty badly to the pot/pan otherwise.
One-Skillet Alfredo Pasta
adapted from The Kitchn

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth, preferably low-sodium
1 pound penne rigate or ziti pasta
1 1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream or half-and-half, warmed (may need more, or some milk)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

1.  Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a very large skillet (or soup pot even- I prefer to use non-stick here) over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary, and sauté until nicely browned on the outside, but still a bit pink inside, about 4 minutes (the pieces don’t have to be browned on all sides; two sides is fine). Remove the chicken and set aside on a plate.

2.  Do not clean the pan- those brown bits on the bottom of the pan are going to add flavor to the sauce. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté over medium heat until you can smell it, 30 seconds. Turn the heat to high, add the chicken broth, and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up all of those caramelized bits. Bring to a simmer, lower to medium heat, and add the pasta, stir well, and simmer until the pasta starts to soften, about 8 minutes.

3.  Stir in the warm cream or half-and-half and the browned chicken with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, most of the liquid has been absorbed, and the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes more.  (You may need more liquid at this point.  I add the remaining half-and-half in my container.  You can use just milk or broth, though.)

4.  Stir in the Parmesan until well incorporated, taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the parsley, if desired. Serve hot and pass extra Parmesan at the table.
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