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Posted by on Feb 1, 2011 in Everyone Will Eat It, On the Basics | 0 comments

What Happens When You Leave Out an Ingredient

Creamy Chicken Pasta

This is what I ate for dinner last tonight. I whipped it up Sunday during one of my token weekend cooking frenzies. And I realized yesterday afternoon that I left out a very key ingredient (better late than never?).

It’s Creamy Chicken Pasta inspired by Creamy Chicken & Noodles by  Plain Chicken. This blog is great for the picky eater set out there, and I’ve found a few new things for Mr. J by following.

Contrary to the name, this is very similar to chicken alfredo, just with a slightly different format. Ok, start boiling some noodles. I used rotini because I didn’t have enough egg noodles like Steph calls for. I had some cooked chicken ready to go, but if you don’t add some butter to a skillet and cook up about three breasts (checking for doneness with a thermometer at 165 degrees). Or bake some (Hi, Amanda W!) by putting a little butter or olive oil in a glass baking dish (I use Pyrex) with the chicken on top with some S&P, and let it hang out at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. My chicken was delicious smoked chicken that the hubs prepared on New Year’s Day. It’s been in the freezer, and this was the perfect occasion. I thawed it in the fridge overnight, and it was perfect and ready to be chopped.

When the noodles are done, strain out the cooking water; toss with the butter; and add a can of evaporated milk, the parsley, and Parm. Then, think to yourself, this needs some seasoning (uh…duh…that’s because you left out the Italian dressing mix), so I add some garlic, of course, and some S&P. I also topped with a little Italian blend cheese.

This is a good time to point out that I usually run through the ingredients list several times while I’m cooking to make sure I haven’t left anything out. It’s a great checks and balances system because, trust me, I’ve done this a lot. Sometimes, recipes are printed wrong, and you can figure it out if you’re checking both the ingredient list and the directions. It’s a good practice to read through an entire recipe before you start to make sure you have everything you need (pots and pans and preheated ovens included). If I had used the seasoning packet, my dish would have beautiful colorful specks of flavor, but I was doing 800 other things.

Another thing I’ve learned is that it is very hard to over-season. You don’t want to over-season because it’s hard to come back from that, but if you taste along the way, don’t be afraid to put in a little more than you think it needs. Just remember that some flavors develop over time. Confused yet? If you’re not great at seasoning, it will come with time. Follow the recipe for now, and learn what your palate likes. You’ll discover what spices and flavors marry well together, and you’ll be a master in no time.

Back to this recipe…it was quite tasty, but I’ll have to try it again with my lonely packet of Italian dressing mix. It is a super fast recipe for weeknights if your chicken is ready to go (or even if it’s not). If you can plan ahead and cook the chicken on the weekend, it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together for a great meal after work. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredient list:

  • 1 (0.6-oz.) envelope Italian dressing mix
  • 1 (8-oz.) package wide egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 cup whipping cream or evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions from Plain Chicken:
Cook noodles according to package directions; drain well, and return noodles to pan.

Stir in 2 Tbsp. butter, and toss to coat. Stir in chopped chicken, next 3 ingredients, and dressing mix. Cook mixture over medium-high heat, tossing to coat evenly, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

Betty Becca note: My can of evaporated milk was 12 oz., and I used 12 oz. of rotini. Steph calls for 8 oz. (1 cup) of evaporated milk and 8 oz. of egg noodles. I was able to keep the same ratio of sauce to noodles (1 : 1) and not waste any evaporated milk. Also, I can’t use whipping cream because of an allergy.

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