Saturday, August 11, 2012

Guest Post - Skillet Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

The final contribution in my anniversary guest post series belongs to Melissa of Alosha's Kitchen. I can't say enough good things about Melissa, a wonderful woman who was one of my earliest fans. In the beginning days of my blog I think the only people who read it were my close friends and family. Then Melissa found my blog and I felt like I'd finally made it - someone I didn't know was reading about my recipes! That was a very big deal for me. The fact that she's an awesome, loving, fantastic friend (who is a fellow Doctor Who fan) is the icing on the cake. It's been amazing to watch her grow as a cook, going from processed foods and always having to follow a recipe to fresh, wholesome ingredients and making things up on the fly. Thank you for helping me celebrate, Melissa!

When Sarah asked me to help her commemorate her 6-year blogging milestone, I said yes without hesitation. Sarah is one of my favorite food friends and quite simply put, I would not be a food blogger if not for her.

I began reading A Taste of Home Cooking in early 2007, by a total stroke of luck, and in one of our earliest exchanges, she nudged me about taking photos of my food… well, one thing led to another and by October 2007 I had started my own food blog. It has since been through a couple of iterations, but its very existence is owed to her and her initial encouragement. Considering all that blogging has taught me about cooking and, more importantly, the friendships I have developed because of that endeavor, I certainly owe her a debt of gratitude.

There are very few sites I continue to read as the years roll by. I'm fickle, really, and for various reasons, very few food bloggers capture and hold my attention. But Sarah... even after all this time, when I see a post in my Facebook feed from A Taste of Home Cooking or log into Google and see that little bold '1' by her blog name, I feel that familiar flutter of happiness, wondering what she made and if I can add it to my next week's menu.

I just love her style, her approach. I believe very strongly in the idea that food at its finest is simple, tasty, no fuss - bonus points for plenty of variety. Sarah accomplished all of that with her blog entries six years ago and she still manages to achieve it today, week after week, recipe after recipe. I don't know how she does it; I am just grateful to be part of her devoted readership.

This skillet chicken and broccoli pasta that I made to celebrate her anniversary perfectly embodies all of those qualities I adore. It's a no-fail, one-pot, delicious meal that gets better every time I make it. It made its appearance here in late 2007 (hey, you can see my comment on the original post!) and I've been whipping it up, with slight adjustments, ever since. Over the years, it has became a go-to meal, a standby, an "it's Friday night and I can't think of what to make" thing. It is such a long-standing favorite in my house, it was even the first meal I cooked in our new place when we moved back to Texas last year.

For this recipe, and for so many more amazing meals, I thank you, Sarah. Thank you for leading the way and making me a better cook, for teaching me about carbonara and chicken tikka masala and that asparagus and egg yolk are a match made in heaven. Thank you for being a good friend and a joy to know... and thank you most of all for being a fellow Davies-era-only Whovian (*epic fist bump*).

Happy 6 years to A Taste of Home Cooking. I hope to be reading you for the next 6 years... and the next 6 after that for good measure!

Skillet Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces ziti or penne
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup chicken stock (or water)
Fresh broccoli florets and stems cut from a 1-pound bunch
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook for 1 minute without stirring. Stir the chicken and continue to saute until the chicken is almost completely cooked, about 6 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil, onion, and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the pasta and 3 1/2 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is thick and syrupy and almost completely absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Add the broccoli and the remaining 1 cup chicken stock or water. Cover with a tight fitting lid, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the broccoli turns bright green and is barely tender, 6 to 7 minutes.

Uncover and return the heat to high. Stir in the half and half, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve, passing more grated cheese and crushed red pepper at the table, if desired.
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  1. This has been a really fun series - what great friends you've made. And obviously, this last contribution is near and dear to my heart because of my ties and friendship to Melissa. I started blogging back in 2009 and Alosha's Kitchen was the very first personal blog I put in my Reader. I didn't even know what an RSS subscription was! So I understand the meaning and connection. It's profound, no?

    And now here I am following you...we're all just dots on a page, waiting to be connected.

    Happy happy 6 years, Sarah - they say if you can survive 5 years after starting anything, then you've made it, so I'd say your footprint is cemented.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I didn't realize I'd touched so many blogging lives until I read these posts. Brings a smile to my face, that's for sure.

      I also love that now you and I are connected through Melissa. :) Thank you for the well wishes.

  2. It certainly is, Amy. I agree that sometimes it feels that way, the waiting to be connected thing. I just feel so lucky to have met you both.

    The post came out lovely and your words about me were just as touching. Thanks, Sarah. Cheers! ♥


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