Saturday, September 17, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

We all have dreams of our career, and life.  My dreams always have something to do with cooking.  When I moved out of my parents’ house, I really started cooking with some intensity.  But it was a few years before I came into my own with cooking.  I realized cooking was so easy for me.  To get home from work, and pull out a few ingredients to create a great dish, quickly, was really my niche.  As I have mentioned before, my cousin really helped to bolster my love of quick dishes, and increased my interest is publishing what I cook.  We would always talk about recipes and other foodie type thing.  She mentioned to me, “Have you watched Rachel Ray?” I said, no, but I think I’ve seen her cookbooks at the store.  So the next time I was at work, I stopped by the cookbook section, and checked out her cookbook(s).  All I could think was “That B*&^H stole my idea”, it took me a couple of years to get over that though, and once I embraced  her style of cooking, watched her show and heard her story, I changed my thought to, “WOW, we’re so alike!”.  And I became an avid watcher of her show(s), reader of her magazine, and follower of all things RR, with the exception of her cute-isms (still can’t do EVOO, sorry).

While making the weekly menu, I wanted something different, something I hadn’t made before, or haven’t made in a while.  Then I remembered an episode of the Rachel Ray show, where she was cooking for the US Ski team.  Everyone loves CHICKEN WANGS, especially a certain member of my household, so this recipe is a “sure thing” to be a hit. The most important thing to remember when deciding to make this recipe is to prep EVERYTHING before you start cooking.  It goes VERY quick, so there’s no time to stop and prep it up.  One note of caution, I used a little too much hot sauce for me, so be careful with the hot sauce, if you don’t like heat.  You can always add it to each individual dish if more heat is needed.

Buffalo Chicken Pasta
                Inspired by a Rachel Ray recipe
    2 tbsp olive oil
    2 lbs (about 4 to 6, depending on size) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bits
    1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
    1 large onion, chopped
    3 ribs celery, finely chopped
    5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
    1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    1 bay leaf
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups chicken stock
    ¼ to ½ cup hot sauce(such as Franks Red Hot Wing Sauce, depending on how hot you like it (be careful, this can get REALLY HOT)
    1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
    1 lb small pasta ( I used Barilla Mini Penne)
    ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
    2 scallions, root ends removed and thinly sliced

Yields: 6 servings


To make cutting the chicken easier, place it into the freezer for about 15 minutes until it firms up slightly but isn’t frozen through. This will let you cut it up quickly into small pieces.

Preheat broiler and place a large pot of salted water over high heat to bring up to a boil for the pasta.

Place a large pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the chicken bits and brown them, about 5-6 minutes. Add the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, paprika, bay leaf and some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook the veggies, stirring frequently, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the hot sauce and crushed tomatoes, and bring up to a boil. Simmer the mixture for 8-10 minutes to let the flavors come together and thicken it slightly.

While the mixture is simmering, toss the pasta into the boiling salted water and cook until al dente according to package directions. Once cooked, drain the pasta and toss it into the meat mixture, then transfer everything to a casserole dish. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top and place it under the broiler until the cheeses have melted and the top is golden brown, 2-3 minutes.

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