Thursday, 24 April 2014

Chicken & Mozzarella Arrabbiata

OK so everything about this screams “What are you on about!” - it isn’t arrabbiata by any means. And also, I’m a hypocrite. On occasion (not that often as, for a start, I have normally planned in advance what we will eat on any given day) a conversation between me & the bf has gone thus:

bf: what are we having for dinner?
me: I don’t know. Pasta?
bf: do we have mushrooms? pancetta?
me: um, yes, almost certainly
bf: oh good, so we can have carbonara….
me (cutting in): so most definitely *not* carbonara then!

But anyway, it does have tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and chili (kind of). Just ignore everything else.

So.. when cooking this, and being aware that it would also be feeding a small person, I only used red pepper flakes but feel free to up the chili hotness (as I normally would) by adding chopped fresh chillies or dried chilli flakes.

It isn’t entirely necessary to poach & shred the chicken, just slicing it or chopping it up into bite-size bits would also work but I think poaching in liquid beforehands ensures that it is moist & tender. The fact that the mozzarella is then able to insinuate itself more goo-ily into the sauce doesn’t hurt either.

Chicken Arrabiata with Mozzarella
serves 2½

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
small handful basil, torn
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 skinless chicken breasts, poached until just cooked & shredded
400g tin chopped plum tomatoes
½ tsp tomato purée
large glug red wine
pinch of sugar
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
200g dried penne pasta
1 ball of mozzarella, torn into small chunks
parmesan to serve

Sauté the onions over a low heat until soft and translucent. This will take 10-15 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and red pepper flakes and stir around for a couple of minutes more.

Turn up the heat and glug in a large splash of wine. Let it reduce and burn off the alcohol and then add the tomatoes, squishing them down with the back of a spoon.

Add the tomato purée, sugar, a good grind of black pepper and half the basil and let very gently simmer over a low heat for at least 15 minutes. Season to taste carefully.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and after about 5 minutes of the cooking time add the shredded chicken to the tomato sauce. Cover and simmer gently over a low heat.

When the pasta is just less than al denté, drain reserving a little of the water and add the drained pasta and the rest of the basil with a tablespoon or so of the pasta cooking water to the sauce.

Stir around well, then add the torn up mozzarella bits to the top.

Pop the lid back on, turn off the heat and leave for about 5 minutes.

Dish up and serve with some grated Parmesan on the table for people to help themselves.

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