Monday, 11 July 2011

Quills and Feathers

Penne con Salsa di Miele & Senape, con Pollo Arrosto e Salvia
Honey & Mustard Penne with Chicken & Sage

Penne, literally named after the pen or quill that they resemble in their angular, pointed form, are amongst the most popular of pasta shapes-  just as honey and mustard is one of many well established and much loved flavor combinations... So what could be better than to pair them and create a wonderful Summer dish? Hmmm... maybe adding some juicy, garlic and rosemary-infused chicken breast into the deal and some sizzled sage leaves? 
Yep, I thought that would get your attention...

This is another quick and easy crowd- pleaser and one I am sure you will enjoy yourselves. Lets start by boiling our penne in salted water for 5-6 minutes and then adding some red onion slices and cooking for a further minute or two. This will remove any harsh bite from the onion and have it partially cooked for us to finish off later. One the pasta is done, drain and set to one side and grab yourself a frying pan... time to get some real flavors going!

So lets crank up the heat in our frying pan and add a pat of clarified butter. I prefer it to regular butter for what we are going to do next as it we can use a higher heat than with normal butter, which would otherwise go brown and turn bitter.

Once the oil is bubbling, drop in the sage leaves and let them fry for about a minute until they are crispy and glazed. Remove them, set them to one side and add the chicken breasts and a couple of cloves of garlic. I didn't want to used crushed or sliced garlic, as this too will otherwise burn and turn bitter, I just wanted to perfume the butter, so that along with the sage aroma it has already taken on, it will flavor our chicken discretely. Fry the chicken until golden brown and then add a little coarsely chopped rosemary and a drizzle of honey, which will give it a wonderful golden glaze.

Quickly remove the chicken from the pan, before the honey has a chance to burn (this can happen very quickly!) and then add the pasta and onion, a good tablespoon of Dijon mustard, two tablespoons of honey and a half cup of milk. Return to the heat and stir until everything combines into a smooth, silky sauce. Season with grated nutmeg, salt and pepper and grate with a little lemon zest... mmm! Getting hungry? You betcha!

All you need to do is to serve it up now- pasta first, then the chicken and then the crispy sage leaves... delicious! I didn't think that cheese would go well with the honey and mustard, but I will leave that up to you. What did go well was a last blast of freshly ground pepper, a little finely chopped parsley and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Perfect! Can't you just see yourself enjoying this, sipping on a chilled pinot grigio and gazing into a Tuscan sunset? Now just remove the only part of the equation that isn't going to work (the Tuscan part that is)- and enjoy the rest!

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