Monday, March 29, 2010

Simple Chicken Spaghetti with Carrot and Yellow Squash

I had never even heard of chicken spaghetti until I moved to Louisiana.  I was skeptical about whether I'd like it.  My mother in law's version convinced me I had really been missing out.  Now, when I make it, I adapt her recipe.  Her cooking specialty is long, slow simmered dishes that take hours and you can really taste the impact that has on her sauce.  I don't usually plan far enough ahead and am starving at 7pm with no meal in sight, so I make this much quicker version.  I take shortcuts.  Sometimes, I use jarred pasta sauce instead of making my own.  Sometimes, I don't use the right wine.  Today is one of those days.  I'm not saying it's perfect pasta sauce, just saying it's really good and really easy.  The carrot and squash create a subtle sweetness that tones down the acidity of the tomato sauce and create a bit of depth.  You'll like it.

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (or whatever type of chicken you want to use)
salt and pepper
1 TB olive oil
1 onion. diced
1bell pepper, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 ts cayenne pepper (optional)
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces of similar thickness
2-3 very small yellow squashes or 1 larger one, cut into half moons about 1/2 inch thick
a splash of red wine (probably about 1/4 cup)
1 jar of decent pasta sauce
salt and pepper to taste

spaghetti pasta

grated or shaved Parmesan Reggiano for topping

Cut boneless skinless chicken breast into bite sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.   Bring 1 TB olive oil to shimmering point in a 5 quart or larger dutch oven or heavy, covered skillet over medium high heat.  Lightly brown chicken.  You can choose to use chicken thighs, the shredded meat of a rotisserie chicken or a whole chicken in 8-10 parts if you prefer.  Just adjust the cooking times accordingly.

Add diced onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Saute with chicken until the they begin to soften and onion is becoming translucent.

Add carrots.  Don't stir too much.  Let the vegetables have contact with the pan long enough to get a bit of golden caramelization.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add yellow squash and sauté about 1 minute longer.  Vegetables should be softening but not cooked through at this point.

Add wine to deglaze pan.  Stir briefly to loosen any nice golden bits from the bottom of the pan.  If you don't get any golden bits (I didn't last night) it's OK.  It just means that the pan may have been too crowded and the vegetables steamed a bit more than they caramelized.  It happens.

Add jar of pasta sauce.  Add cayenne pepper and any additional seasoning to taste.  Cover and simmer on very low heat for 20 minutes to 3-4 hours, depending on how hungry you are.  Longer is nice, but not essential.  Cook pasta separately according to package instructions.  Serve sauce over pasta with lots of freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano.

Serves 4-6


Celeste March 29, 2010 at 11:27 AM  

Mmm...chix spaghetti is second cousin to my cajun favorite...shrimp spaghetti.

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