I just need to stop acting on impulses sometimes. I'll take my weekly trip to the grocery store, stock up on staples I intend on using and then at the end of the week, some of those items are staring at me on the verge of going bad. The items in question? Mushrooms. I had a package of cremini and white button mushrooms that I didn't end up using this past week. Thankfully, Rachel Ray came through for me.
Normally Rachel Ray isn't someone I initially think of for recipes. Even though I have a couple of her books, they were gifts from friends and family and I never did take the time to go through to see what recipes she had. Since I was sorting through cookbooks today, I stopped and flipped through her Rachel Ray: 365 No Repeats cookbook. There, I found the following recipe that helped me put my mushrooms to good (and delicious!) use.
Rachel's recipe for Chicken with Mushrooms and Balsamic Cream Sauce was super easy to make and a nice balance of flavors too. The dish consists of a sauteed chicken breast that's topped with a luxurious sauce made with caramelized mushrooms, garlic, fresh thyme leaves, and shallots. The sauce is rich but not as fat laden as you may think by the texture. Chicken stock and just a bit of cream is added to the caramelized mushrooms and allowed to reduce and thicken. The chicken is served atop a bed of orzo and the sauce is carefully draped over the chicken. For a bit of texture (and extra calories) I also added some crumbled crisp bacon over the top as garnish. The bacon was optional so feel free to omit it! All in all, it was a delicious meal, especially if you want to treat yourself to something special.
recipe adapted from Rachel Ray
1/2 pound orzo pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 6 ounces
salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
10 oz cremini or baby portobello mushrooms, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
10 oz white mushrooms, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, a couple of sprigs, chopped
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons heavy cream or half-and-half
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish
1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon for garnish (optional)
Prepare the pasta by heating a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add orzo pasta. Cook to al dente.
Prepare the mushrooms by preheating a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add extra-virgin olive oil. Season chicken liberally with salt, pepper garlic powder. Add to the hot skillet. Cook the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm.
Return the skillet to the heat, turn heat back a bit, and add the butter. Once the butter melts add the mushrooms and brown stirring occasionally for about 4 to 5 minutes. Once the mushrooms are brown season with salt and pepper then add the garlic, thyme and shallots. Cook stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes or until the shallots are wilted. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook 2 minutes more. Whisk in the stock, balsamic vinegar and the cream. Turn the heat up to high and simmer for about 2-5 minutes or until thickened.
To serve, pile orzo on dinner plates and top with top with a chicken breast and sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley and crumbled bacon (if using.)