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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It doesn't look so pretty...

But I can assure you it tasted great!

It occured to me after looking back over my first few posts that I am yet to give a recipe for anything savoury. And bearing in mind my HUGE pasta addiction (to which Chris will attest and probably groan at, seeing as I try to feed it to him at least twice a week despite his adamant and definitely ridiculous view that it is far tastier eaten only occasionally), what could be better that a gorgeous Sunday-night chicken & mushroom fusilli with bacon, chilli, rocket and basil?

Over the years my relationship with this ubiquitous foodstuff has changed and, I like to think, grown somewhat to reflect my furthered knowledge and experience in the kitchen. I've always loved it in its myriad forms, and been happy to consume it pretty much to the exclusion of all other foods, however I can dimly remember a time in my childhood when the pinnacle of my pasta experiences involved spaghetti with minced meat sauce and pretend parmesan cheese. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but how things change! I now make, buy and consume varying fresh and filled pastas, along with the craziest of dried shapes coated in everything from basic tomato sugo to slow-cooked shredded rabbit with olives, pancetta and tiny onions. Which, unfortunately, has landed me with a slight problem: I am now unable to order pasta off most restaurant menus.

That's right. Call me picky, a snob perhaps, but I have spent so long in my own kitchen playing with pasta that the overcooked, oversauced and underflavoured (or just plain weird) offerings of many a 'cafe' or pub menu simply don't cut it anymore. There are notable exceptions at a few higher-end restaurants in Perth, but for the most part I must venture away from the pasta section on the menu and head instead for the proteins. A tall order for someone who loves the stuff as much as I do!

Anyway, back to Sunday night's chicken and mushroom creation. It's not my best ever, but was more than serviceable as a 'pull everything out of the fridge and chuck it in a pan' dinner for two. I've done my best to remember the main points below...

Chicken & Mushroom Fusilli
enough for 2

200g fusilli pasta
1 small chicken breast (always free range, people!!), diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt, pepper, oregano for seasoning your chicken
2tbs olive oil
8 button mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, finely diced
2 rashers bacon, diced
1 chilli, sliced (more if you like it hot)
250ml tomato puree
a big handful of rocket and basil
parmesan cheese

Cook your pasta until al dente, then drain. Meanwhile, heat a large frypan over medium heat. Season your chicken with garlic, salt, pepper and oregano to taste (I just sprinkle the seasonings over chicken in a bowl and mix with my hands). Add the oil to your chicken and mix, then fry until browned all over (doesn't need to be cooked all the way through, you'll finish it off later). Remove from pan and set aside.

Place the pan back on medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook for a minute or two until they start to brown and have lost most of their 'juice', then add your shallot, bacon and chilli to the pan. Cook until the bacon is browned, then add the tomato puree and a touch of hot water to thin the mixture if you need it. Add your browned chicken back to the pan and cook everything until the chicken is cooked through.

Add your drained pasta and rocket/basil mix to the pan and mix thoroughly. At this stage I like to add a handful of grated parmesan and mix it through, rather than just sprinkle it all on top once it's in the bowl. Season to taste and adjust if necessary.

Serve your pasta in large bowls with more parmesan cheese on top, and enjoy!

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