Chicken Pasta with Thyme-Mint Cream Sauce

This is the time of year when I most love to cook.   I’m not sure why.  There’s something magical about the fresh food that’s available to us this time of year.  There’s something even more magical about the things I have growing in my backyard.  I love to find ways to use the herbs that are growing just beyond my patio.  Everything seems to taste better when you’ve picked it yourself.

This is also the time of year when I hate having my oven on for more than the minimum amount of time.  No need to heat up the house.  So I move outside or cook things that are quick and easy.  These added challenges make finding delicious recipes almost a game.

When I came across this recipe, it seemed to fit all of the criteria and I couldn’t wait to give it a try.  The result was as tasty and summery has I had expected, the herbs were growing in my backyard and it was certainly quick to make.  An ideal warm-weather dinner.

Chicken Pasta with Thyme-Mint Cream

1 pound whole wheat pasta, such as linguine or fettucini

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs (my preference), cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt and more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat 4 quarts salted water in a large pot for the pasta.  As the water heats, prepare the chicken.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high.  Season chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken, spreading them out initially and not stirring them so that they have an opportunity to brown. Once lightly browned on one side, use tongs to flip the pieces over so they brown on the second side.  When pieces are browned on both sides, and just cooked through, remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Deglaze the pan with white wine.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add chicken stock and let liquids reduce by half (turn up the heat, if necessary)   Add the cream, mint, thyme, lemon zest, honey, salt and vinegar.  Reduce the sauce by half again.

Once the pasta water is boiling, cook pasta according to package directions.  When ready, drain pasta and add to cream sauce when cream sauce has reduced by half and is thick enough to coat a spoon.  Add chicken to pasta and sauce.  Use more salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

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