Smoked Chicken and Mushroom Al Forno

This offering began life as a newspaper cutting recipe by NZ House & Garden Food Editor Sally Butters, entitled Smoked Chicken, Mushroom and Broccoli Pasta Bake. Alas, I did not make a note on the cutting about its provenance, and I culled it quite a long time ago, so I have no idea from whence, or when, it came to me. Sorry, Sally, but that does not alter the fact that you turned out a good one here. I have made a couple of minor changes, removing the blue cheese because Ruth does not like it, and substituting cashews for the pinenuts, which are outrageously expensive these days. I have also changed the name to something that sounds like a name rather than a list of ingredients.

 

Ingredients.

50g butter.

3 tblsp flour.

1 ½ cups milk.

1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese.

¼ cup basil pesto.

¼ tsp nutmeg.

¼ cup olive oil.

3 cups short pasta e.g. penne or spirals.

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped.

1 ½ cups thinly sliced mushrooms.

1 ½ cups broccoli florets.

1 smoked chicken breast, shredded.

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

¼ cup cashews.

Extra grated cheese for sprinkling.

 

Method.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium flame until it begins to foam. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute then whisk in the milk. Bring to the boil, whisking frequently, and reduce heat until the mixture thickens. Remove from the hob and beat in the cheese pesto and the nutmeg. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta for the time recommended on the pack. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over a hot flame and fry the garlic until beginning to turn golden, then stir in the mushrooms, broccoli and chicken meat, and season to taste. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes then reduce the heat.

Drain the pasta and add to the mushroom mixture and stir well. Add half the cheese sauce and stir until fully combined. Pour into a baking dish, scatter the cashews across, top with the rest of the cheese mixture and scatter the reserved grated cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Leave to rest for 5 minutes and serve.

 

Serve with: A crisp green salad.

 

Serves: 2.

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