We interrupt our tales of Turkey and Greece to bring you Mother’s Day. So, first and foremost: Happy Mother’s Day! to everyone out there who (biologically or not) is a mother.
Now, if your mom is anything like my mom, she has several signature dishes. You know, the ones everyone requests; the ones she could make in her sleep, blindfolded, and with one arm tied behind her back? Yeah, those dishes. My mom has 3. Now, if you know my mother, you might argue that she has two…but no, it’s actually 3. The confusion, of course, stems from the fact that she hasn’t made her lasagna in probably close to 30 years–so even she might not consider it her signature dish. But I remember it well–the ooey, gooey, cheesy, tomatoey deliciousness that exploded flavor in your mouth when you ate it. Everything was fresh and amazing and it seemed to take her forever and so it was a very rare occasion when Momma would make lasagna.
What she does make frequently–and at everyone’s request–is her Chicken Spaghetti and her Dorito Gook. Gook? Yes, don’t ask–if you’ve had it, you love it and if you haven’t it just sounds weird and like something you’d never want to try, even though yes, yes you do. But the Gook is not why we’re here. It’s the Chicken Spaghetti (and celebrating mommas!) that bring us here today.
NO ONE on the planet makes Chicken Spaghetti like my Momma. I’m not even going to argue this point with you, so save your breath and your emails. The problem with Momma’s recipe is that the ingredients aren’t always the easiest to find when traveling the globe. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it took forever to find a replacement for pimentos when living in Australia. These days, I’m on a quest to make it a bit healthier by substituting some of the ingredients, like switching to whole wheat pasta. Mine is still very tasty (IMHO!) and made with lots of love, but nothing will beat Momma’s.
A quick shout-out before I begin to Super Healthy Kids, where I found a simple and easy recipe for a substitution for cream soups. And while it’s not low fat, at least I can pronounce all the ingredients! If you’re looking for a gluten-free version, One Good Thing by Jillee has this one!
And now, let me present:
Chicken Spaghetti à la Shez
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 10oz (1 package) of white button mushrooms, washed and diced into chunks
- 12oz (1 jar) fire roasted red peppers (or you could use a large can of pimentos), sliced
- 16oz whole wheat spaghetti
- 1/2lb grated cheese (I like to monterey jack)
- 1 cup of cilantro + more for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cream of Soup recipe:
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup of milk
salt & pepper to taste
Make a roux by melting butter in a saucepan and whisking in flour until paste is smooth. Add broth and milk, stirring continuously and cooking at a slow boil until mixture is thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Now, for the spaghetti: saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a stock pot for a couple of minutes until translucent. Add chicken breasts and enough water to cover chicken by about 2 inches (I usually use about 8 cups). Add salt and pepper. Honestly, I never measure–a good sprinkling of each (I know, I know it’s not helpful, but honestly I never think to measure it out so I can share it with you).
Bring to a boil and let it boil for about an hour until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Once chicken is cooked, carefully remove it from the pot (it’s hot, yo!) and place it on a cutting board to cool off. DO NOT THROW AWAY THE WATER!!! In fact, bring it back to a boil and add the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, make the cream of soup recipe above and then add it to the pot (or you can use 1 can each cream of chicken and mushroom–just give the pasta 5 minutes to cook before adding them in). Dice the mushrooms, slice the peppers, grate the cheese and adding them in as you go (put in the cheese last). At this point, the chicken should be cool enough to handle (although maybe not, so be careful) chunk or shred the chicken and add it back to the pot. Give it a few good stirs to incorporate all the ingredients and ensure that the cheese is nice and melted. Right before serving add the cilantro (or you can use parsley, if you prefer) and give it one final stir before dishing it out. Garnish with more cilantro (or parsley) and dig in!
Thanks Momma–I LOVE YOU!!