Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chicken & Lemon Cream with Pasta

I'm lucky to have a lemon tree near our condo. For the last couple of months clusters of lemons have been ripening. It's first-come-first-serve with the neighbors. Since my latest recipe, Chicken & Lemon Cream with Pasta, uses only one lemon, there is plenty of this tart fruit for all the neighbors to pick.

Combining cream with lemon juice smooths out the sourness, giving the pasta sauce tartness and sweetness -- it's a great flavor combination. Some recipes stop there, and you can, but I thought to add a bit of poultry protein from a convenient tin.

I prefer cooking with fresh chicken, but sometimes the workday is too long and a 5 ounce can of cooked chicken makes dinner come together quickly and easily. I can always get it at my local 99c only Store, so it's cheap enough (although not as economical as fresh.) You could also use some of the roasted whole cooked chicken on sale under the heat lamps you bring home from your local grocery store. And every month my Latin market has bone-in chicken breast on sale for 99 cents per pound.

Click here on the website devoted to picking fruit in public spaces for free, it's called Fallen Fruit. So if you are fortunate enough to have a neighborhood lemon tree around, or your farmers market and ethnic grocery have some on sale, then be sure to try out The 99 Cent Chef's delicious Chicken & Lemon Cream with Pasta.

Ingredients (1-2 servings)
  • 5 ounce can of chicken - *Okay to use fresh chicken, about half of a whole chicken breast.
  • Juice of 1 lemon - about 1/4 cup, fresh or bottled.
  • 1 cup cream - whipping cream or half-and-half. Okay to use whole milk.
  • Finish with parmesan cheese - Fresh shaved or dried.
  • Pepper to taste - canned chicken has plenty of salt.
  • 1/3 package of pasta - okay to add more for a big appetite.
  • Water for boiling pasta.

Start water for pasta and add pasta when at a low boil. Follow cooking directions -- I usually shave off a minute or two for al dente. Pasta should be ready about the same time as Chicken and Lemon Cream Sauce is done.

Meanwhile add cream to a saute pan over a medium heat. Slice lemon and slowly add juice while continuously stirring cream (so it doesn't curdle.) To keep out seeds just squeeze juice into a bowl and remove them -- this also makes adding juice a little at a time easier.

No need to boil, just continue to stir cream and lemon juice until it comes to a low simmer.

Open can of chicken and add it (including the liquid) to cream. Lightly stir until chicken is heated through, another couple of minutes.

*For uncooked fresh chicken, chop into bite sized pieces. Add to sauce and cook until done, about 5-10 minutes. Slice into the thickest chicken piece -- done when juices are clear (no pink or red coloring.)

Season with pepper to taste (no salt as canned has plenty - if fresh chicken is used then go ahead and salt to taste.)

For a thick sauce, reduce liquid by a third; or just go ahead and pour it over the pasta if you are impatient and like a thinner sauce.

If I am using dried parmesan I'll add it with the chicken. If the parmesan is fresh, then I will shave it over the finished and plated pasta.

Of course you can keep this dish vegetarian and use your favorite milk substitute.

And leave out the chicken and replace it with some favorite veggies like broccoli or asparagus. This Italian entree is all about a lemon infused sauce on pasta.


saudade said...

I was just thinking this afternoon about what to do with the chicken breasts I defrosted yesterday. Going to make this tonight with quinoa and collard greens. Cheers!

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