I know I’ve said it before, but sometimes the best (BEST) meals come from having to rummage through the “nothing” in the fridge and turn it into “something”. Last night was especially challenging because the ol’ ice box was pretty bare, and fresh ingredients were in scarce supply. I thought to make some kind of curry, because I can always count on having frozen chicken breasts, peas, and potatoes on hand. Alas, last night Bernie was looking for anything but Indian.
In all honesty, Bern and I having different dinner cravings makes playing “Chopped” with fridge ingredients that much more fun - I like the challenge of running through my brain to see what else I can come up with, and the satisfaction of seeing his face get a little excited when I land on something good is like slipping the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle into position.
I turned my plan Italian (always a safe play) and bounced through a few iterations with Bernie before reaching something that jived. I admit, he got a little nervous when I landed on milk as a key ingredient, but hey - marriage is all about trust. The end result was a a one-pan chicken and pasta dish with a creamy tomato sauce that hit all the spots.
Creamy Chicken & Peas
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1/2 lb linguini, cooked al dente
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Serve with grated parmesan and crushed red pepper
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
1. Slice the chicken breasts so that you reduce the thickness of the chicken breast by half.
2. Mix the salt, pepper. and garlic powder together and sprinkle half generously over the chicken.
3. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat.
4. Sear the chicken spice-side down in the skillet. While one side is cooking, use the other half of the spice mix to season the other side. Flip when the first side is golden brown. Brown the other side and then remove from the skillet and cut into 1-inch slices. The middle should still be pink(ish). Reduce the pan heat to medium-low.
5. Add two more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan along with the sliced garlic clove. Once the garlic begins to caramelize, return the chicken to the pan along with the dried oregano. Stir so that everything is coated into tomato paste and let cook for 2-3 minutes so the tomato paste begins to caramelize.
6. Add wine (or chicken broth) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottoms. Add the peas and cooked linguini, stirring to fully incorporate all of the ingredients. Remove from heat and add the milk/cream and parsley, again stirring until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
7. Sprinkle the top with shredded mozzarella and bake until bubbly.
8. Serve with heaps of grated parmesan, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.