Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 1: Southwestern Pasta Bake

   Coarse salt
1 pound penne rigate or cavatappi
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons chili powder
   Coarse black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3/4 pound sharp yellow Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat the broiler to high and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta until slightly undercooked - a little chewy at the center.

While the water is coming up to a boil, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil. Season the chicken with cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add the seasoned chicken to the hot skillet and cook until lightly brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos and continue to cook for 5 minutes. While the chicken is cooking with the onions, make the Cheddar sauce.

In a medium sauce pot, melt the butter and add the flour to it. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat, then whisk in the milk. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro, and parsley with a wooden spoon. Season with a little salt and pepper and remove the cheese sauce from the heat.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the large pot, add the contents of the chicken skillet and all of the cheddar sauce, and stir to combine.

Transfer to a baking dish and place under the broiler to lightly brown.


I took this recipe from June 2. It was switched with Springtime Bows with Asparagus, Ham, and Peas. This one seemed like more of a Fall meal anyway. It was good, but, like yesterday's meal, the chunks of chicken were just too big to be appetizing. I should have cut them up into smaller pieces. Also, it had a weird, fatty, powdery flavor. It's pretty good comfort food, but not something I'd make very often. My parsley and cilantro went bad before I made this, so I left them out. The cilantro especially would have added so much to this meal.

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