January 3, 2011

... Orecchiette with Chicken, Caramelized Onions, and Blue Cheese

Funny story... I love pasta.  Love it.  But I don't love tomato sauce.  I know, it's weird, but it's something about the texture of the stewed tomatoes that gets to me.  Anyhoo... I'm always up for a great pasta recipe with a unique list of ingredients that doesn't include anything mushy.

Another thing I'm a big fan of is fresh herbs.  And really, who isn't?  In a few shorts months, I'll be growing some on my own, but for now I'll pay the well-worth-it price for store-bought.

The caramelized onions were a sweet addition to the woodsy Rosemary and the earthy, nutty blue cheese.

There's nothing fancy about this grilled chicken, but it always makes you feel better eating pasta and cheese when there's something remotely healthy to accompany it.

Oreccheitte with Chicken, Caramelized Onions, and Blue Cheese
serves 4-6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Add the onions, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft, richly browned, and caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from the heat and keep warm.

While the onions are cooking, prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high.  Pound the chicken lightly between 2 pieces of plastic wrap to a uniform 1/4-inch thickness.  Rub the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken about 4 inches from the broiler or directly over the fire.  If using a grill, cover it and cook on one side for about 4 minutes.  Flip the chicken breasts over and continue cooking, covered if using a grill, until tender and the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife, about 4 minutes longer.  Set aside while the pasta cooks.

Fill an 8- to 10-quart stockpot two-thirds full of water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the boiling water, and then add the pasta.  Stir and cook the pasta until al dente (cooked through, but still slightly chewy), about 10 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken into 1/2-inch wide strips and place in a large, warmed serving bowl.  Sprinkle the chicken with the rosemary and toss to combine.  Drain the pasta in a colander, but do not rinse, then add to the bowl along with the blue cheese.  Toss to combine, cover, and set aside briefly until the cheese partially melts.  Add the caramelized onions to the bowl, toss to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Taylor's Notes:
I don't know what it is about serving sizes, but I always feel like they must be determined based on feeding a pack of hungry large men who haven't eaten in days.  This recipe is supposed to serve four to six, however I halved the recipe and I guarantee I could have fed at least five.  So... do what you will, but be ready for leftovers.

Over all, the recipe was very easy to make and took about an hour from start to finish.  Definitely start with the onions as they'll take a good 25-30 minutes to cook down and caramelize.  You absolutely don't want to rush them or take them off too early.  The caramelizing gives them that great sweet taste.  While they're hanging in the skillet, prep the chicken and start the pasta water.  Once the water is boiling, put the chicken on the grill.  Since it's January and way too cold to use my outdoor grill, I used my grill pan and it worked perfectly.  The chicken truly takes only a few minutes per side if it's pounded thin and by the time the second side is getting its grill marks, the pasta will be done.

Serve it with a full-bodied red wine and some great crusty bread (speaking of 'love'...)


1 comment:

Kate said...

yummo! can't wait to try this one!