Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken with Tomato and Basil Skillet Sauce

I read somewhere that chicken recipes top the search lists when folks are looking for dinner ideas. While I like chicken, I do tend to spend a lot more time exploring what to do with "proteins" I didn't eat often as a youngster.

Chicken was plentiful and cheap in the South - of course it was battery chicken. I think I ate chicken everyday for 4 years while in undergraduate - then developed a slight intolerance in the few years thereafter. I'm also put off by the cost of chicken in Quebec to be honest. I do watch for sales and stash a few bags in a cooler to take back from the U.S. when possible - frozen bags from Trader Joe's are a good buy.

I don't bother with pounding my chicken breasts. I just brown on the stove and finish them cooking in the oven. They taste delicious and it's less work. My husband is part Italian so "red sauce" is a welcome addition to my dishes as far as he is concerned - I am partial to Northern Italian cuisine. This is an easy, Italian-inspired chicken pasta recipe - simple work for weeknight fare. 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 box (26.46 ounces/750 grams) chopped tomatoes
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon agave nectar
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Leaves from two sprigs of basil, or to taste, cut into ribbons
Pasta, to serve
Parmesan, to serve

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts. In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium on the stove. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken a few minutes on each side. The chicken will release easily from the pan when it is ready to be turned. Put in the oven to finish cooking. This should take about 10 minutes or until the chicken registers 165°F at the thickest part. When finished, remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Crack over a bit of sea salt and black pepper, to taste.

Begin cooking the pasta according to the package instructions. Typically, about 7-11 minutes, depending on shape, in boiling, salted water. Drain when finished. While the pasta boils, make the sauce.

Heat the skillet, used for the chicken, over medium-high. While scrapping the browned bits from the skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in the juice and oil from the chicken; about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, agave, salt and black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the basil, cook for 2 additional minutes.

Serve the sauce over the pasta topped with sliced chicken and parmesan if desired.

Serves 4

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