Monday Dinner: Spaghetti al Limone with Poached Chicken

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Something tells me that we have touched on this in the past, but I really like cooking with citrus, particularly lemon and lime. The juice is a stalwart, but one of the more underrated ingredients in a recipe is the grated zest.

2013-10-21 at 16-32-20Dragging the outer layer of that lemon across the grater doesn’t just separate skin from fruit. It releases the natural oils, the same oils used in fragrances, cleaning products and other consumer products. There is more flavor on the outside of the citrus fruit than on the inside. (Plus, there’s not a better way to kill the odors from your garbage disposal than flipping the switch on a zested and juiced lemon.)

2013-10-21 at 16-36-10WHAT WORKED: Lemons, but you probably guessed that. I also went with Trader Joe’s High Fiber spaghetti. You can never have too much fiber.

WHAT DIDN’T: Salt. The measures in the original recipe are too heavy. I’ve drawn them back in this adaptation.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “This is really good, but there is way too much salt.”

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Yes, and I bet that this would be just as good with cilantro and lime.

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Spaghetti al Limone with Poached Chicken
Adapted from Yvonne Ruperti and Serious Eats

  • 2 cups homemade or good quality store-bought low-sodium chicken stock (not broth)
  • 1 cup homemade or good quality store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock (not broth)
  • 12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 medium breast halves)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups basil leaves, chiffonaded or finely chopped
  • 1 lb. dry spaghetti
  • 6 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup zest and 5 tablespoons juice from 3 to 4 lemons
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over pasta
  • 2 oz. parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra for serving on the side

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Combine stock and simmer over medium heat in medium saucepan. Add chicken breasts and pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer until chicken is just cooked through (160°F), about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to plate and cool. Shred with two forks into bite size pieces.

While chicken is cooking, bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta to the directions on the package. Reserve 2 cups pasta water and drain pasta. Rinse briefly under cold water to stop pasta from cooking.

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Return pasta pot to the stove. Bring 1 cup pasta water, cream, and zest to simmer over medium heat. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in a pinch of salt, one or two twists of a black pepper grinder, and oil. Return pasta to pot and toss with grated cheese, chicken, lemon juice, and basil. Reduce heat to low heat and cook for about 1 minute to warm through and meld flavors. Add more pasta water as necessary to thin. Season to taste and serve immediately, drizzling with extra olive oil and extra grated parmesan.

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