Wednesday, March 21, 2012

White Cheddar Chicken Pasta

I have yet to learn how to photograph pasta so it looks pretty (I realize that none of my photo's are really that amazing...although some do surprise me). So, please forgive my drab photos and give this recipe a chance anyway.

One of my dear husband's quirks is that he won't enjoy a meal that I cook this week until he hasn't eaten it for a couple months. This is understandable because, between the two of us, we eat a lot of leftovers. But, as a cook, that means that I need to have a big repertoire of recipes to choose from to allow proper separation of duplication. As mentioned before, I love mac and cheese. In an effort to be sneaky and get my fill for mac and cheese without triggering this response in him, I made this White Cheddar Chicken Pasta. It isn't called mac and cheese, so that is a good start. It also has chicken, which separates it as well. Up until right in this moment (as he is reading this post), my little scheme worked. My craving was satisfied and so were his brain and taste buds. Score!

This is a delightful dish. The white cheddar adds a nice mix up from the norm and tastes yummy. It fits very well into the comfort food category. It will definitely be something we eat again - not for at least a couple months though! ;)

Yield: about 6 servings

For the chicken:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

For the pasta:
1 pound short cut pasta
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup white cooking wine
1 tbsp dijon mustard
8 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups milk
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix together mustard, thyme, salt and pepper and sprinkle over the chicken. When the pan is hot, add chicken and brown about 3 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.

Heat water to boil in a large stock pot for pasta, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente.

Meanwhile, melt butter in the same large skillet as above over medium heat (I didn't clean mine in between - it helps to add just a little more flavor depth). Add flour and whisk to combine. Add wine, garlic, onions, and mustard. Cook about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Reduce heat to low and slowly add milk, stirring to combine. Cook until mixture begins to thicken, about 5-7 minutes. Add the cheese and stir to melt. Add chicken and pasta and stir to mix in the sauce. Serve topped with crushed red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese.

Source: slightly adapted from Homemade By Holman

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