Chicken in Marinara with Mushrooms

Ingredients:

3 cups marinara (either homemade or from a jar)
6 large fresh basil leaves, torn in half
Goodly shake of ground black pepper
1 T olive oil
1 (8 oz) boneless skinless chicken breast
1 T olive oil
8 small cremini mushrooms, rinsed, patted dry, and destemmed, then cut into chunks
1/2 cup onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 oz angel hair pasta
Condiments: pecorino Romano cheese, chopped flat Italian parsley or sliced (from a jar) Calabrian chiles

Spoon Mage™ Notes:

This recipe is great for two people. Add another chicken breast and 2 more ounces of pasta if there are 3-4. Add more marinara and pasta if you have more guests.

Extra virgin olive oil is always preferred, but not required by law.

You can make this spicy by adding one (or two if you really like things super hot) chopped Calabrian chile to the marinara with the garlic. You can get a great jar of Calabrian Chiles at DeLallo.

Directions:

Either make the marinara or get the jar. of your favorite brand out of the pantry. Pour the sauce into a  bowl, add the black pepper and fresh basil. Set aside. Prep the mushrooms and onions. Pat the chicken breast dry with a paper towel.

Set a sauté skillet with tall sides (and a lid), over medium high and heat the pan until very hot. Then add the olive oil and wait a few seconds, until the oil shimmers (won’t take long, don’t answer the phone now). Use tongs and add the chicken, browning on both sides. That will only take about 3-4 minutes on each side if you let the skillet get hot enough. Do not worry about cooking it through, just brown it and set aside on a plate for a bit.

Add the second tablespoon of olive oil and tip in both the mushrooms and onion. Sauté with frequent stirring until the mushrooms start to brown and the onions are clear. Move to the next step when the onions start to brown.

Add the garlic (and Calabrian chile if using inside the sauce) and stir constantly for  30 seconds – note how the garlic aroma changes about then. The garlic is telling you that is is ready to go..

Pour the prepared sauce into the skillet. Stir well. Place the chicken (and any juices) into the center of the skillet. Reduce heat to low and keep it on a braising bubble, not a strong simmer. Cover the skillet and let it bubble gently  for about an 50 minutes to an hour. Stir frequently, spooning sauce over the top of the chicken. The chicken will become so lovely and tender it will pull apart into pieces at the table.

Near the end of simmer time boil the water and cook the angel hair pasta – that only takes 3 minutes! Drain it. Place it in a bowl and pour just a smidge of olive oil on it and stir. Place in a bowl.

Bring the sauce, chicken (sliced into pieces and on a plate), and pasta to the table. Fill your plate with angel hair, ladle on some marinara, and select a piece of chicken. Enjoy with a beautiful green salad that has been lightly dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or a little squish of lemon juice.

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