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Monday, April 7, 2008

pappardelle with porcini mushrooms and garlic roast chicken


A recipe for "pappardelle with porcini and pistachios" was recently featured in Food & Wine magazine, from the chef at Cru restaurant in NYC. I decided I wanted to try it, but needed to add roast chicken (if I want to make pasta at home, it is absolutely mandatory that I find a way to include protein, or my boyfriend will insist on skipping dinner and just having a protein shake). I also substituted pine nuts for the pistachios, and used dried porcinis instead of fresh. The result? My sweet aforementioned boyfriend rated this dish one of his all-time favorites. The caramelized onions are a surprising sweet contrast to the garlicky chicken and earthy mushrooms.

Grocery list: 2 boneless chicken breasts WITH skin (about 1-1.5 pounds), garlic, lemon, thyme; pappardelle pasta (could substitute fettucine), large red onion, 1 pound fresh porcini or 2 packages dried porcini mushrooms, 1 shallot, chicken stock, parsley, pine nutes, lemon, dried red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese for serving.

smashing garlic

I've covered roasted chicken before, but this variation involves stuffing a garlic and thyme paste and a few lemon slices up under the skin, so that the chicken is more flavorful. I saw this on the well fed food blog and it looked amazing -- it's perfect for this recipe. The picture above is a technique to easily get the peel off a clove of garlic -- is this something everyone does? I can't remember where I learned it but it's so useful. Chop off the hard end of the garlic, and lay the flat side of your knife blade down on the garlic. Whack it one time, in a quick motion. The garlic clove crushes on the inside, and the peel will fall right off.

Mince 3 garlic cloves, and mince a couple of stems of thyme. Pour some salt right on the garlic and thyme, and mash with the flat side of your knife blade slowly, massaging the garlic until it turns into paste.

prepping roast chicken

Smear the garlic paste under the skin of the chicken, forming a little pocket, and insert a couple of lemon slices. Place skin-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, and grind salt and pepper on top; bake 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Let the chicken rest.

roasted chicken 2

When you remove it from the pan, it should easily separate from the skin (the skin will stay on the pan), and then you can shred it and set aside for later.

mushroom sauce ingredients

Let's cover the prep work for the mushroom sauce first. If you're using dried mushrooms, rinse them very well in cold water, then put into a bowl. Boil about a cup of water, and pour over the dried mushrooms. Let them sit for 20 minutes. Remove from the water and set aside. While they are sitting in the water, you can caramelize the red onion by sauteing it in 3T melted butter over medium heat for at least 15 minutes. Slice a couple of garlic cloves as thinly as you can, and mince 1-2 shallots.

mushroom sauce 1

The original recipe calls for fresh porcinis, so if you're using them instead, you would remove the onion from the pan and cook the fresh mushrooms in a few more tablespoons of butter for 8 minutes. I realized this step is unnecessary if you're using dehydrated mushrooms -- at this point in the process, just add the mushrooms to the onion in the pan. Season with salt and pepper, then add the garlic and shallot and cook for about 1 minute.

mushroom sauce final

Next, add 2 cups of chicken stock and a handful of chopped parsley to the pan, and simmer over medium-high heat till it is reduced down to the consistency of a thick sauce (about 10 minutes). Stir in the juice of half a lemon, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a handful of pine nuts, and the shredded roast chicken.


Cook the pappardelle according to the package directions, and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta and the 1/2 cup of cooking water in with the mushroom sauce and chicken, and top with grated parmesan to serve.

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