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Chef Eric's Recipe Notes-Chicken in Lemon Basil Cream Sauce with Penne Pasta and Vegetable Medley*



Here are a few thoughts on the methods I used when preparing this dish for my family….


First, I read through the recipe and got out the pots and pans I would use.


A. 1 qt pot with 1” of water and 1 T of butter (from my fridge) for the Vegetables. Get the water hot, melting the butter. I add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.


B. 3qt pot filled 2/3 thirds with water, 1 teaspoon of salt for the Penne Pasta. Put it on high heat to bring the water to a boil. This is the longest process of this meal (frequently, it is the longest process of any meal.) I live by the rule of getting my water on first! Bring it to boil while preparing the other ingredients. This way we are doing two things at once! Plus we are not having to wait for the water to boil because…a watched pot never comes to a boil! (Haha)


C. I like to sear the meat in a cast iron skillet. It’s what I have. I have been using the skillet for years and I have a nostalgic history with it.


D. You may find, after cooking for a short period of time, the mental centering that comes with using your equipment and preparing your food proves to be Zen like. Just get in the flow of the activity… the world stops, and this is what is important. {Note: when preparing your meals, give thanks to the farmers, the harvesters, the transportation folks, the packagers, the grocery stores, the people who built your home, produced your culinary equipment, the lights, gas, electricity etc… We take it for granted, but a whole lot of people are involved in producing the meal you have in front of you… None of us could likely do all this on our own!}

E. Get the kids to help set the table. Placemat, Fork, Knife, Folded Napkin, Cup or Glass for their drinks. Teach them: Forks go on the left and knives and spoons go on the right. (To remember: “Fork” has four letters, as does “left”; “knife” and “spoon” both have five letters, as does “right.”) Folded Napkin under the Fork on the left side. A set table sets up a nice protocol for family time. Not always easy to do and it gives kids a chance to share about their day.

F. NO CELL PHONES...that includes mom and dad!


Second, I read over the menu card, separating my ingredient bags to be sure I understand what I have.

For the Basil Chicken, I pulled out a plate, added the flour. NOTE: double check you are using the correct flour bag by pinching the bags. This one has some salt & black pepper in it. The other one has a cube of butter in which you can feel when you pinch the bag.

NOTE: Here we can debate about additional seasoning on the chicken prior to dredging. The flour bag has some Salt & Black Pepper. Depending on your taste preferences, feel free to add a pinch of salt and/or pepper directly to the meat, or, not. (Reminder, there is some salt in the chicken broth and the seasoning bag). Place chicken in flour, flipping to lightly coat

While mentally debating the seasoning question, I have my 10” skillet on medium high heat. I want the pan hot. I will add some cooking/olive oil/butter (likely 1-2 tablespoons) from my pantry. When the pan is smoking, I grab my tongs and add my chicken.


Turn on the vegetable water to come to a boil.


Put the penne pasta into the boiling water. Stir. Grab a strainer to be ready to drain the pasta.



I seared each breast side for 3/4 minutes. I am looking for a rich browning, not blackening, on each side of chicken. I place the chicken to rest on a clean plate. Turn the heat down to low as we will use the pan to make our sauce. (The floured plate has already been washed or place in the dishwasher. Keep your work area clear of used items)



Put the vegetables in the boiling water. Stir Penne Pasta



The pan which had the chicken now gets the flour and butter bag. Melt the butter, stirring in the flour and all the rich “fond” from cooking the chicken. {Fond: small particles of browned food and especially meat that adhere to the bottom of a cooking pan and are used especially in making sauces} A wooden spoon works best in my opinion. The roux can simmer and turn an almond brown. There may even be a nutty aroma. Add the chicken stock. Continue stirring until it is incorporated. Next add the seasoning bag. NOTE: Snip the bottom corner and squeeze the ingredients out. This is so much easier than trying to unzip the top and pour these ingredients out. Stir until incorporated.


Next add the Cream Bag. Again, snip the corner of the bag to squeeze the cream out. Allow this Sauce to simmer until thickened. {Nappe is the term: French culinary term that means to coat food with a thin even layer of sauce or the ability of a sauce to coat the back of a spoon.}


Taste test…season? Add the chicken to the sauce to rewarm. Keep on a real low heat or cover pan





Check the penne pasta…is it done yet? If you are following my timing, about 8-10 minutes have passed and the penne should be cooked. You want an ever so slight resistance to the bite. Pasta should hold its shape (overcooked and it flattens out). If done, strain it. If not, cook longer until done, check heat under meat to be sure it is really low. Once done and strained, place penne back in the hot pot, add some olive oil to keep it from sticking. Cover.


How are the vegetables? These should have had 3-4 minutes to cook. Taste test…season?

You are now ready to serve!!!


Pasta first, vegetables next, add your chicken breast and spoon sauce on Pasta and Chicken!


Enjoy!


* My photos show Green Beans... these were substitutions made before I committed to this project, the original recipe calls for Vegetable Medley.

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