June 04, 2013

Patti's Chicken

Like everybody on Earth, my mom has a handful of staples that frequent our kitchen table.  This is one of those dishes.

When I called my mom for the recipe I asked her, "So if I put this on the blog, what would I call it?".  Like most foods in our house it goes by the practical name of "that chicken pasta dish with the peppers and the cream sauce".  To my surprise, she said she'd call it Patti's Chicken.

Patti was my mom's college roommate.  According to my mom's legend, she came up to visit my parents and made this dish for them.  They apparently fell in love with it, because we've been eating with some regularity ever since.  Patti, incidentally, gave me the teddy bear that as a child became that stuffed animal that you have a disproportional affection for.  This made it a target, and ended up having its head pulled off half a dozen times (that's life with an older brother).  It's actually the only one that seemed worth packing when I moved out to Illinois, and it still sits in my window sill.

This dish is a perfect summer food.  It makes me think of one of those warm summer nights, sitting out on the back patio, sipping on cold white wine with the whole family.  It's light and easy, ideal for those nights when it's too hot to turn on the oven, and your sink is too full of dishes to make many more.  So without further ado:

Patti's Chicken

You'll Need:
1 small container of heavy cream
1 box thin spaghetti 
2 TB butter
1/2 of a sweet onion
2 or 3 peppers- ideally red/orange/yellow bell peppers
basil (the dry, shaker kind is fine)
chicken base (or chicken stock or bouillon)
white wine
1 small bad of shredded mozzarella

The full recipe is typed out at the bottom for your convenience.
Here's the last minute "hey mom, I don't have recipe, what do I do?" version.

First step:  pick your peppers and an onion.

Chop them babies up as big or small as you like, and put them in a big sauce pan with a couple tablespoons of butter.  Sauté lightly and set them aside in a bowl.

While those are slow cookin' on medium heat, get your chicken ready.  Chop it up into thin strips.

Meanwhile, we entered charm hour!  White wine, hummus, and pita chips.  All Trader Joe's.

This is my new favorite wine.  It is maybe $4.  It's an exclusive to Trader Joe's.  But it's light and green apple-y and not too sweet (I really don't like the sweet stuff).  In fact, I'm drinking a glass right now!

Okay, so now that you're sipping and chatting, those peppers are getting yummy.  Softened and a little brown, but not totally done.  They'll get a little more cooking time later.  For now, just set them aside in a bowl.  I put mine in the oven on low to keep it warm and out of the way.

Now take those chicken strips and toss them in the pan the onions just came out of.  Don't you love when you only make one dirty pan?

Add a tidge of extra virgin olive oil and season with pepper and basil.  I just use the dried shaker kind.

Looking close to done?  Cut through your biggest chunk and make sure it's not pink.
(You should probably be working on getting your pasta water to around now).

Okay so your chicken is good- now to do the sauce.  Into your pan goes white wine (a generous glassful), some chicken base (stock or bouillon will do), and one of those little containers of cream.  Adjust these amounts to your taste, of course.

Add those veggies back in.

Now add in the better part of a bag of shredded mozzarella cheese (in a series of handfuls, so you don't get a hefty glob of cheese).

Stir till melted and serve over thin spaghetti.  If the spaghetti is done early, drain and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil in the pot you cooked it in.  This will keep in from sticking in one big clump.

The sauce is pretty thin, so we serve it in one big pasta bowl.


The Recipe:

1.  Slice your pepper and onions and sauté lightly (they'll cook more later).  Set these aside in a bowl (I put mine in the oven to keep it warm).

2.  Slice up your chicken into thin strips.  Toss it into that same pan with a little olive oil, and season with pepper and dried basil.  Shake around on medium heat until they're cooked through.

3.  Add chicken base (with water if you want), white wine, and cream.  I use maybe a tablespoon of base, about a cup of cream, and a cup and a half of wine?  But I just pour and then taste it so these are super rough estimates.  Just remember that you'll want extra sauce and that some with evaporate in cooking.

4.  Add your peppers and onions back in.  Add most of a small bag of mozzarella, again to taste. I love cheese, so I'm a little heavy handed.  Serve with a nice big glass of white wine.

* an earlier version spelled her name Patty, not Patti.  My apologies!
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