Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Chicken, Bacon, and Parmesan Rotini with Scallions and Garlic

When I'm cooking and eating lunch or dinner by myself, my meals quite often fall into one of three broad categories - sandwiches, salads or noodles. These are typically vegetarian for health and convenience reasons, running the gamut from elaborate and complex to a good ol' PB&J. In the summer months, my noodle preferences lean towards cold veggie noodle salads, but now that autumn is settling in, it is game on with heartier pasta fare.

It doesn't take a genius to realize why this is so delicious. When you start with bacon and end with Parmesan, almost anything you throw in between is guaranteed to be delectable. This recipe might only use one slice of bacon, but not a bit of that flavor is wasted, the rendered fat used to gently cook the onions chicken, and garlic and unite all the ingredients with rich and smoky flavor. The final sharp accent of the scallion greens is the perfect contrast, making all the luxuriousness even more notable.

Not only is this particular combination delicious, but the recipe provides a nice jumping off point for cozy pasta dinners for one (or more). The basic method of cook pasta, saute proteins and vegetables, and create a pan sauce with pasta water is endlessly useful and a method every busy chef should have at their fingertips.

Chicken, Bacon, and Parmesan Rotini with Scallions and Garlic
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 1

1 ounce sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
2 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 medium to large or 1 small onion, sliced thin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 scallions, white bulbs cut into 1/2-inch lengths, green tops chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 to 3 ounces pound whole wheat rotini, or other small pasta
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

1. In a large deep frying pan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Put the pan over moderate heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften and become translucent, just a few minutes. Add the chicken and continue cooking until the onions are golden, 7 to 10 minutes total.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until almost done, about 9 minutes, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain the pasta and set aside. 

3. Stir in the scallion bulbs and the garlic; cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add the pasta water and bring to a simmer. Cook until the pasta is just done, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with the bacon and scallion greens and serve promptly.

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