Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Chicken Spaghetti

To feed 4 people:
2 lbs. bonless skinless white meat chicken
8oz spaghetti
8T Butter and 8-16 oz sliced mushrooms - depending on taste with garlic powder for seasoning
8 T butter & 8 T flour
8 oz. each : 1/2 & 1/2; low fat mayo; 1/2 fat sour cream; lo sodium chicken broth;
Parmesan cheese
Garlic Powder, White Pepper, Chili Powder or Paprika

Boil your chicken, or use previously cooked chicken, tear into bie sized pieces. Set aside.
Saute mushrooms in melted butter and garlic powder or use minced garlic (if you're a purist) use as much or as little garlic and mushrooms as you wish, depending on your taste.
While the 'shrooms are cooking, boil the spaghetti. When it's done, rinse, and toss with the chicken and set aside.
Once the 'shrooms are done, spray a 9x13 pan with a Pam-like spray, then spread the 'shrooms evenly in the bottom of the pan. Then place the sketti/chicken mix on top of the 'shrooms.
Now get a really deep skillet or sauce pan capable of holding all the other ingredients. I used to use a steel skillet of my Grandmothers that caused tendonitis in my wrist if lifted with one hand. Then, my fav younger Bro gave me a WONDERFUL Calphalon skillet. Now I use it.
Ever made a white sauce? Well, you're gonna'. Have all the ingredients lined up w/in arms reach.
Turn the heat on low. Put the butter, NOT margarine, in the skillet. Let it melt. Using a Whisk, add 2 T of flour at a time, and stir constantly. Once you've added all the flour, it should look nice and smooth, like lemon velvet. Slowly pour in the 1/2 & 1/2, stirring constantly, but slowly. Slowly, consistent stirrlng is the key to a smooth sauce/gravy . Okay, keep stirrin, and once it starts to thicken a bit, you can add either the sour cream or the mayo, doesn't matter which. Just add one at a time and stir slowly til it's all mixed in, nice and slow,, then add the other. When those are all mixed in, then add in some garlic, smell it til it smells "right", can't smell garlic, add some more, just until you can smell it.
Now, the white pepper. This can be dangerous stuff, IF you're not used to it. Start w/ 1/2 t. Stir it in good, then take a taste, not spicy enough, add 1/4t, and so on til it's just barely spicy. You want this sauce to be RICH, not HOT.
Then add the Chicken broth, stir til it's mixed in well, don't worry that the sauce got waay thinner, the Parmesan eill thicken it back up.
Now add the Parmesan. AS soon as it's mixed in and the sauce has thickened back up, take it off the heat and start to pour over the pan with the spaghetti in it.
Pour from one end to the other and back, side to side, slowly. If the pan starts to get too full, set the skillet or saucepan down. Take a straw, or knife or chopstik and poke holes in the spaghetti to let the sauce get all the way down thru the layers of pasta.
Then pick up the pan and gently "bounce" it a few times on the counter to get the air bubbles out, like you do with cake batter.
And commence to pouring sauce again. If you still have sauce left over, save it. You can always use it to pour over individual servings, leftovers, or as a dipping sauce for bread, like at Olive Garden, or I'm told it will freeze, although I've never tried that.
Now the recipe I've just given you is, believe it or not, the "Heart Healthy" version. Yeppers. Butter is the only thing I refuse to skimp on. Because, if you bother to read the labels, there's not THAT much diff between butter and margarine in calories and fat and all that jazz.
When I first started making this dish in the late '80's, the original recipe called for heavy cream, real sour cream and real mayo. I started calling the sauce my Cardiologist's Nightmare Sauce. Is it any wonder the men in my family have histories of quadruple bypasses and high blood pressure?
In about 2000 I decided to see if I could healthy it up some w/out affecting the quality of the taste. It worked out pretty well, I think.
I usually serve this with either a big crispy green salad, or sometimes asparagus spears. And always with yeast rolls.
If you're into wine, like I am, I recommend Sauvignon Blanc, or a Chardonnay. Although I've been toying with the idea of breakin' with tradition and trying a Shirazz. I'm open to suggestions...

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