Saturday, February 21, 2009

Skillet Ziti with Chicken and Broccoli


Roasted red peppers are sold in jars of different sizes. One 12-ounce jar is enough for this recipe. Sun-dried tomatoes can be substituted for the roasted red peppers. This recipe also works well with penne.

We are always on the lookout for quick main-course pasta dishes that are easy to prepare. Ziti with chicken and broccoli is a classic pasta dish that, while pretty easy to make, typically requires a few pots or pans and several steps to prepare. And the flavor is rarely worth all the effort. Could we make ziti with chicken and broccoli in just one pan and make it taste really good? Here’s what we discovered:

Test Kitchen Discoveries

* Use a large nonstick skillet that can accommodate all the ingredients.
* Brown the chicken, but don’t cook it through completely. It will finish cooking as it simmers in the sauce with the pasta.
* Add roasted red peppers for flavor and color contrast. Rinse the peppers well and blot them dry to remove all of the brine in which they were packed before adding them to the sauce.
* Cut the broccoli into uniform 1-inch pieces to ensure that they cook evenly in the sauce.
* Cook the pasta in a blend of chicken broth and milk for a rich, slightly creamy flavor that’s not too rich.

Serves 4 to 6
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts , sliced into 1-inch pieces
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion , minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic , minced
8 ounces ziti (2 /12 cups)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 bunch broccoli (1 1/2 pounds), stems discarded and florets cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers , rinsed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 ounce Parmesan cheese , grated (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (optional)

1. Pat the chicken dry, then season with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until it is lightly browned but not fully cooked, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.

2. Add 1 more tablespoon of the butter, the onion, red pepper flakes, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

3. Sprinkle the ziti evenly into the skillet. Pour the broth and milk over the ziti. Cover and bring to a simmer, about 2 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the broccoli and roasted peppers. Cover and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta begins to soften and the broccoli turns bright green, about 8 minutes.

5. Stir in the chicken and any accumulated juice. Cover and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.

6. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, the Parmesan, and lemon juice (if using). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

from America's Test Kitchen e-mail

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