Penne with Chicken and Artichokes

I eat a lot of chicken. Probably out of my 21 meals a week, I eat chicken for at least 12 of them. So finding new and different ways to prepare chicken is something I never stop doing. My brother sent me a Barnes and Noble gift card for my birthday and I finally made it over there (now that I’m fully vaccinated) a few days ago and imagine how wonderful it was when I found The Chicken Bible, by the America’s Test Kitchen. A cookbook with 500 different ways to prepare chicken! I’m in heaven looking through this cookbook every day searching for a new way to make my chicken taste delicious. And this one is a definite winner. If someone needs to watch salt intake, skip the olives. Serves 4.

Cut into thin strips (or chunks if preferred realizing they’ll have to cook longer):

1 pound (2 large boneless breasts, split or 6 boneless chicken thighs – remove skins before slicing)*

Dry the chicken with a paper towel and sprinkle with:

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a medium Dutch oven, over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When hot add the chicken and cook, without stirring, until it starts to brown. Then stir and continue to cook until just about cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl and cover. To the pot, add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

Cook until the onion is translucent then add:

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano and thyme)

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Cook about one minute or until you can smell the garlic then add:

4 cups chicken stock

Bring to a boil and add:

8 ounces gluten-free penne

Reduce heat to medium and continue on a slow boil until penne is al dente, about 6-8 minutes depending on the brand used. Stir frequently, sauce should reduce and thicken while the penne is cooking. Stir in:

6-8 ounces artichoke hearts, quartered (I used the vacuum packed ones available at Whole Foods but frozen will work just as well)

Cook an additional 5-8 minutes or until sauce sticks to the pasta. The sauce should be quite thick, not at all soupy (see example below). Add:

Chicken pieces

12 ounces of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size

1/4 cup kalamata olives (chopped)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (Follow Your Heart makes a delicious vegan Parmesan already grated)

Cook until chicken is reheated, tossing the pasta lightly. Add:

1/4 cup chiffonaded basil leaves (roll the leaves into a log and thinly slice)

Toss the pasta once again to mix in the basil, taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed and serve.

This is not what you want, see the sauce on the bottom of the plate, too soupy!

This is what it should look like. See how the sauce sticks to the pasta.

*Whenever I need to slice chicken, if I’m using frozen chicken, I try to catch it when it’s still just slightly frozen because its much easier to slice when its partly frozen. If using fresh chicken, try putting it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Pasta Bolognese

What’s better than a bowl of pasta with a rich, unctuous, makes you go ummmmmm sauce? That’s exactly what you get with a Bolognese sauce. The centerpiece of this sauce is the meat, lots of meat with a few vegetables thrown in for good measure and not much tomato sauce. I think in large measure the rich unctuousness of the sauce comes from starting off with a quarter cup of olive oil. That builds the flavors as each is added. This will serve 6-8 people easily. Serve over whatever kind of pasta your family prefers but a larger pasta, i.e., spaghetti rather than linguini, will hold the sauce better.

In a large stew pot, heat:

1/4 cup olive oil

Over medium high heat. Add:

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large or 2 medium celery stalks, chopped

1 large or 3/4 cup of carrot, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Remove from heat. In a large skillet with high sides, heat over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add:

1 pound ground turkey

1 pound ground pork

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté stirring frequently to break up the ground meat until there’s no pink left and any juices have steamed away. Add to the vegetables along with:

28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

If you choose, like I did, to use dried herbs add them now with the tomato. If you choose to use fresh herbs, add them about 15 minutes before the sauce is ready.

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes (or 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped)

1 1/2 tablespoon dried basil (or 8-10 basil leaves chopped)

Stir to combine all ingredients, reduce heat to low simmer, partially cover (in other words leave the lid at an angle so that steam escapes), and cook for at least one hour. I actually left my sauce to cook for almost 2 hours which helps the vegetables break down and integrate into the sauce.

Before serving, stir in 1/4 cup grated cheese*

TIP: I did add 6 ounces of shitake mushrooms, just because I had them on hand and they needed to be used.

*Follow Your Heart makes a parmesan cheese that contains no coconut or nuts of any kind and tastes just like parmesan cheese, at least to me! The traditional recipe calls for grated pecorino Romano cheese.