Rich Italian Chicken Pasta

Submitted by: Paul C. Smith
This is indulgent-very rich, but delicious. The flavors are layered with the chicken, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, but it does actually come together nicely. The kids even accidentally ate mushrooms and artichoke hearts without knowing!

Serves: 4-6

Preparation time:
Cooking time:

Ingredients

Sauce
1/4 cup pancetta (diced--you could use bacon, but pancetta is better)
6 Tbsp butter, softened and cubed
1 TBS garlic, chopped
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups milk
1 TBS cornstarch (go easy on the cornstarch however--don't overthicken)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup Gouda cheese, 1/4 inch dice (smoked Gouda if you can find it)
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
8.5 oz can sliced artichokes, drained
1/4 tsp pepper
¼ cup mushrooms, sliced (use baby bellas; white mushrooms are a complete waste of money--no flavor at all)
1 1/2 lbs pasta of choice (penne, ziti, rigatoni family), cooked according to package directions

Chicken
1 1/2 lbs skinless/boneless chicken breasts, cut in 1 - 1 ½” pieces
¾ cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup white wine

Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish if you want--it does need something green for presentation. The dish is pretty bland looking otherwise. Try a gremolata around the edges for that pro-chef look if you're ambitious. That's finely diced parsley, carrot, lemon zest and skin, and garlic. Very fancy.)

Method

This is a two saute pan and a big pot of boiling water dish. You're going to make a mess, so clean as you go. Multi-tasking chef challenge here.

Get all your ingredients diced up and ready to go, or you will be full of regret.

The "Sauce" and the "Chicken" below you will be trying to simultaneously. Work fast.

Cook your pasta simultaneously. This should only take 10-15 minutes if you're efficient.

SAUCE:
1. Saute the pancetta in some olive oil until lightly crisp. (Use the oil drained from the sun-dried tomatoes--it's tasty!)
2. Reduce heat to low, add butter and sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic. Stir for a minute to blend. Garlic should not overly brown (keep it golden. Browned only tastes good in Chinese food).
3. Whisk in milk, cream and cheeses. Bring to a boil while whisking constantly until cheese melts.
4. Assess the sauce thickness. Does it need some cornstarch? If so add some to a nice spoon coating consistency. (Always pre-dilute your cornstarch in some water--don't add it directly or you will be clumpy).
5. Lower the heat and set aside.

MEANWHILE:

CHICKEN:
1. Toss the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour.
2. Saute over medium heat in the olive oil until browned and cooked through. Do not over cook.
3. Remove chicken to a paper towel temporarily.
4. Lightly saute the mushrooms for a few minutes, add the artichoke hearts and sundrieds for a minute or two. Remove to same plate/towel as chicken.
5. Deglaze pan with wine wine.
6. Toss everything back in the pan. Toss it and keep it warm basically.

BRING IT ALL TOGETHER:

1. You've got three pans to toss together: SAUCE, CHICKEN, and PASTA. If you like washing excess dishes like I do (joke), I actually use a giant metal bowl that I've had pre-heated to about 250 in the oven. Then I dump in the hot pasta, add the cheese sauce and chicken and toss it like a maniac with my handy-dandy tongs. A quick sprinkle of extra parmesan goes good too.
2. Plate it on a low dish; Garnish as noted above and enjoy.
3. Oh boy, is this dish filling. Only eat once a month or your cardiologist will complain.
4. Have a salad with it. It will make you feel healthier. Garlic bread is semi-essential too. (Here's my cheap-o recipe for that--add heaping spoonfuls of garlic from a jar to some "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" and spread it with a spatula on any old bread; then shake on some Kraft Parmesan; broil until done---bingo! you're a genius).

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