Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Leftover Magic: Weeknight Chicken ‘Cacciatore’ Pasta Bowl

Grilled or roasted chicken is a pretty standard leftover. It sits there eyeing you from the cold depths of your refrigerator challenging you to do something inventive and delicious with it. Most of us slap it on a sandwich, mix it with mayo or toss it onto a salad. But I’m talking about repurposing with a purpose, a little reinventing. A sad leftover Costco chicken threw down the gauntlet in my kitchen last night and I am proud to say I knocked it out of the park, putting that chicken in its place with my spin on a family favorite, chicken cacciatore, revamped for a weeknight easy meal and a warm bowl of goodness.

Chicken ‘Cacciatore’ Pasta Bowl
from a girl and her kitchen

10-12 brown mushrooms, thickly sliced
3 bell peppers (red, yellow and orange), cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 tbsp herbs de provence
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp of capers, drained
2 tbsp marsala wine (sweet or dry will do)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup short dried pasta, any shape will do, whole wheat works great here
1/2 cup shredded parmesan and/or pecorino
1 cup cooked chicken, diced
1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid

Cook the pasta to al dente (soft but with a touch of a bite). In the last 10 seconds of cooking, through the frozen peas into the pot with the pasta. Strain and set aside. Reserve two small ladle of cooking liquid.

Toss peppers with Herbs de Provence, pinch of salt and black pepper, and 1 tbsp olive oil. Place the peppers on a cookie sheet and roast at 400 for 10-15 minutes until soft and slightly browned and caramelized. Set aside.
While pasta and peppers are doing their thing, in a wide sauté pan cook the garlic and shallot in 1 tbsp of olive oil with a sprinkle of salt over medium low heat until the shallot has softened. Set aside with peppers. In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat and cook the mushrooms until they turn brown and they lose some of their water. Deglaze the pan (aka pour in and scrape up the brown bits) with the Marsala wine.
Let cook for one minute then add half of the chicken stock and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the oregano, capers, chopped spinach, peppers and onions back into the pan with the mushrooms and stir to combine. Add in the chicken and remaining 1/2 cup of stock and stir, cooking at low heat to warm the chicken through.
 When the pasta is done, mix pasta into pan with veggies and chicken (this is why you need a big pan) and add cheese and reserved cooking liquid. Stir to combine, taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serving in bowls with a sprinkle of fresh herbs (like basil) and another dash of cheese (bc there is never too much cheese) and enjoy.
 Cook's note: if you want to make this a veggie dish, drop the chicken (or replace with tofu) and swop out the chicken stock for good vegetable stock.

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