Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mushroom Marsala Pasta Bake

As I've said before, in my life there are four seasons of the year...spring, summer, fall and tax season. I'm knee-deep in tax season; the 12-hour plus days, 7 days a week grind is in full swing. We're not home much, I don't cook much.  At the office we take turns bringing in lunches, so we tend to eat decent lunches and light to non-existent dinners.  I think my sole venture in the kitchen this past week has been to make bacon & eggs.  The other night for dinner I had popcorn and some Valentines M&M's (have you tried the cherry flavor?  Oh, yum!) Martha Stewart would be so disappointed in me! I do have plans to cook my Hubbers a nice Valentines dinner so I've not totally fallen off the bandwagon!

A few weeks ago, I made this pasta dish.  I love Marsala chicken so this recipe caught my eye. The original recipe didn't call for chicken but I added it, along with some extra Marsala wine (more is always better, right?) We enjoyed it and had plenty for lunch the next day.

Mushrom Marsala Pasta Bake

1/2 pound pasta of you choice, such as a ziti or twisty shape
2 chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pounds fresh mushroom, sliced
1 small yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup dry Marsala wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups  stock or broth (chicken, vegetable or mushroom)
1/2 cup  finely grated parmesan cheese
4 ounces mozzarella, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook the pasta: Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes before perfect doneness. Drain and set aside.

Heat oven: To 400 degrees.

Cook the chicken: Season chicken pieces with salt, pepper and other seasoning, if desired (I used Italian seasoning). Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to sauté pan. Cook chicken, until no longer pink. Set aside.

Make the sauce: Reheat your empty pasta pot over high heat. Add oil and once it is hot, add mushrooms and cook until they’ve begun to brown and glisten, but have not yet released their liquid. Reduce heat to medium-high, add onions, salt and pepper and saute together until the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Marsala and cook mixture, stirring, until it has almost or fully evaporated (depending on your preference). Add butter, stir until melted. Add flour, and stir until all has been dampened and absorbed. Add stock, a very small splash at a time, stirring the whole time with a spoon. Make sure each splash has been fully mixed into the butter/flour/mushroom mixture, scraping from the bottom of the pan and all around, before adding the next splash. Repeat until all stock has been added. Let mixture simmer together for 2 minutes, stirring frequently; the sauce will thicken. Remove pan from heat.

Assemble and bake dish: Stir in chicken, half the parmesan, all of the mozzarella and two tablespoons of the parsley until evenly mixed. Transfer this mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the top with remaining parmesan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until edges of pasta are golden brown and irresistible. Sprinkle with reserved parsley and serve hot.

Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen.

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