Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chipotle Chicken Pasta

There was a situation on this blog that had to be remedied.  So far I have only had one pasta post, which could probably be considered a horrifying breach of cooking blog etiquette. 

I have always adored pasta.  In fact, the one Reading Rainbow episode I can recall from childhood was the one where they visited the pasta factory.  I was probably about five or six years old, but I vividly remember being in awe as I watched the tortellini making process.  I guess that was either an example of my love for pasta, or perhaps just an early indication of my future cooking obsession.   (Yes, I did check YouTube for that Reading Rainbow clip, which sadly was nowhere to be found.) The recipe I made for this post uses farfalle (bowtie) pasta, which alone is enough reason to make me want to try the dish.  I remember growing up in a house where my mother kept an extensive collection of pasta.   Even as an adult, I still think it’s pretty awesome that pasta comes in cool shapes like bowties, shells, or wagon wheels.  

I actually didn’t start my recipe search looking specifically for pasta.  I was really looking for something to use the rest of my chipotles with.  The problem with constantly trying new recipes is that I am also constantly buying different ingredients.  Sometimes it can be hard to find things to use these ingredients in again, but I’ve been making an attempt to better utilize all the items currently overflowing my cabinets. As for my leftover chipotles, I was lucky enough to run across Homemade By Holman’s Chipotle Chicken Pasta. 

Chipotle Chicken Pasta
1/2 lb farfalle (bowtie) pasta
12 oz of chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/8 cup lime juice
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, diced
½ red onion, diced
3 minced chipotle pepper, canned in adobo sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Marinate chicken in lime juice, 1 clove minced garlic, chili powder, salt, and half the cilantro.  Cook pasta according to directions.  In the meantime, heat olive oil in 12 inch skillet.  Cook the chicken, red bell pepper, onion and 1 clove minced garlic for about five minutes. 

Add the chicken stock and chipotles and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the cooked pasta.  Turn the heat to low and add the cream and parmesan, stirring to coat.  Continue to cook for a couple minutes to allow the sauce to thicken a little.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with the remaining cilantro.

You’ll notice that I tweaked the recipe a bit to my liking.  First off, I tend to like shredded chicken in dishes more than I do chunks of chicken.  Because of this, I used pre-cooked shredded chicken. I still let my chicken sit in the lime liquid mixture for a few minutes.  I also went with all red bell pepper.  The biggest change I made was to use more chipotle than the original recipe called for.  I found the three chipotles to be the perfect amount.  They added just the right amount of smoky heat to the pasta, but didn’t have so much heat that my mouth was left burning.  There was far more flavor than heat.  Finally, I made up a little bit more sauce.
If I tried this again, I’d try using fat free half and half instead of the cream.  I’ve found that fat free half and half makes for a good substitute for cream in some pasta dishes.  It probably wouldn’t work as well in a cream heavy alfredo type sauce, but I have a feeling it might work fine for this type of lighter sauce.

My husband and I were both thrilled with this recipe. Not only did the flavors combine wonderfully, but it was simple and quick to make.  I have plans to mess with the recipe a little more.  I think I might have to try a future version with white cheddar and a little more chipotle.  It would also be pretty good with peas added in.   Suddenly I am also envisioning a chipotle cream sauce on linguine with red and yellow pepper strips and scallops.  Needless to say, I’m sure this recipe will provide a good base for lots of different variations. 

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