Proposal Pasta with Stuffed Chicken
How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was a huge improvement over last year’s. Last year I had swine flu (although I didn’t know it until the next day) and was cooking dinner by myself for my dad and assorted lovely friends. I couldn’t really eat much on the actual day because my stomach hurt so badly (once I actually sat down and sat still long enough to notice how sick I felt). Anyway, this year was better. This year, I went to a Thanksgiving dinner prepared by the beloved carnivore’s aunt. I made a few things, but for the most part, someone else did all the cooking (which was unbelievably delicious), and I didn’t have swine flu. Oh, yeah, and I was sporting some new jewelry – an engagement ring.
Look at all those cooking-related burns on my hand. . . classy. I really need to be more diligent about using potholders. And using them correctly.
Last Tuesday evening, the beloved carnivore popped the question. First, he took me to church at one of the cathedrals in D.C. I was all suspicious, because, well, he’s Baptist, and he asked me to go to a Catholic Mass on a Tuesday. Plus he’d brought me flowers at lunch that day, so I was starting to put the pieces together. After Mass, he took me back to his apartment for dinner. Since I cook for him so much, he said he’d decided it was his turn again (he’s cooked for me several times before, and it’s all been yummy). He’s working on some stuffed chicken and some pasta with mushrooms, and I’m sitting there going “What on earth? Was the church thing just to fake me out and make me think it was coming tonight but it’s really not?” when all of a sudden he asks me to go over to his computer and read the steps of the chicken recipe out loud to him. I went over to his computer, fully expecting to see a recipe, but instead it was a website he’d made, complete with his proposal, a long explanation of the promises he was making to me by proposing (love, devotion, all kinds of good stuff), a list of the reasons he loves me (luckily some were funny, or I’d have been crying even more), and the lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s “The Best is Yet to Come,” one of our favorite songs.
Without hesitation, I said yes. Actually, I did pause briefly (but not out of hesitation) – first he was kneeling in front of me and said “Well, will you?” and I wouldn’t say yes until after I’d made him repeat the full question – I’m difficult like that. After I’d said yes and we’d hugged, he wasn’t as nervous anymore and could finish cooking our dinner while I called my family and friends and did a lot of giggling as I told them the news.
After a lot of phone calls, we ate our dinner, and it was delicious. It tasted just as delicious the next day, and the next day I was in less of a dazed, more of an objective state of mind.
I’m probably messing up this recipe, since it’s based on what I saw him put in the pots and what I’m guessing was in there based on taste, but y’know, I was distracted.
Proposal Pasta with Stuffed Chicken
Courtesy of the beloved carnivore; serves 4 (generously) or serves 2 with heaping helpings of leftovers for lunch the next day
- 1 lb fettuccine, linguine, or similar pasta
- 8 oz mushrooms (standard-sized package of whatever mushroom you like best)
- 6 oz shredded parmesan cheese (6 oz is a standard size package)
- 2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup fine bread crumbs
- 8 TBSP butter, divided (into two sets of 2 TBSP and 4 TBSP)
- salt and pepper
- fresh thyme to taste
- fresh rosemary to taste
- 1 engagement ring, optional
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the mushrooms into 1/4 inch thick slices. Melt 2 TBSP butter in a saute pan (or consider mixing it up and using 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP olive oil). Saute the mushrooms until they’re nice and browned and juicy. Set aside.
Butterfly the chicken breasts. You now have two options for stuffing the chicken breasts. You can follow the beloved carnivore’s method. According to this method, “unfold” each chicken breast and spread some of the sauteed mushrooms and a small handful of the parmesan cheese onto one side of the breast, then fold the breast. Basically, you’re using the butterflied breast to make a sandwich of the stuffing (with the chicken functioning like bread slices), and that’s what it will look like. Or, you can cut the butterflied breasts into two thin pieces of chicken per breast, spread some of the mushrooms and parmesan over each piece, and then roll each piece up like a jellyroll, piercing it with toothpicks to keep it in place. For some helpful instructions on this method (the Amanda method), see this site. You should only use 1/3 to 1/2 of the mushrooms and parmesan to stuff the chicken. The rest will be thrown in with the pasta.
Mix the bread crumbs with a handful of fresh thyme and fresh rosemary, several shakes of black pepper, and 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp salt (depending on your taste). Set aside.
Now melt 2 TBSP of butter in a shallow microwaveable dish. Roll each chicken breast (or rolled-up chicken piece) in the melted butter, fully coating it. Then roll the breasts/pieces in the bread crumbs & seasonings mixture. Place in a greased 9 x 13 pan (preferably Pyrex) and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the chicken is browned and registers 165 on a meat thermometer.
While the chicken is baking, boil the pasta. When done, drain the pasta but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Return drained pasta to pot. Toss in the remaining 4 TBSP of butter, the rest of the parmesan, and the rest of the mushrooms. Stir until the butter and cheese have melted.
Serve after you’ve given a girl an engagement ring, and she’ll think it’s the best meal she’s ever had. Serve it without an engagement ring, and she’ll still think it’s pretty darn tasty.