The other day, my wife simply said of this dish “…this one’s a winner”.  Despite growing up in a house that (to my memory at least) never saw a box of penne pasta, I’ve learned to love these short little tube shapes.  Like all pastas, there are a ton of different ways you can prepare penne, and in this recipe video, I make a mushroom cream sauce (similar to an alfredo sauce) to pair with the pasta and a bit of chicken.  The mushrooms give the sauce a nice earthy, meaty flavor, and the cream a richness, that carries the flavors into every bite. I like to cook the mushrooms until they are well-done, crispy on the outside and tender inside, which is the only thing that takes some time; you can still be eating in about 40 minutes.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Recipe overview and Keys to Success

To make the best Chicken Penne with Mushroom Cream Sauce I think you need to know just a few things:

  • Start checking the doneness of the pasta before the time on the box suggests – and the only real way to test it, is to taste it.  Overcooked pasta tastes bad…don’t do it.
  • I really like to cook the mushrooms down for a good 15 – 20 minutes over medium high heat; until the water is just about all evaporated, and the mushrooms take on a slightly chewy texture.  That really concentrates the flavor, and removes any trace of “sliminess” that I have heard some complain about.
  • Add the baby spinach at the very last minute, after you take the pasta off the heat.  There’s going to be plenty of residual heat left in the pan to wilt the spinach, and you don’t want it over cooked.
  • Make sure to season as you go!

RECIPE FOR CHICKEN PENNE WITH MUSHROOM CREAM SAUCE

Ingredients (for 2)

  • Third pound of penne pasta
  • 1 pint of heavy cream
  • 1 heaping cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 heaping cup baby spinach
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 5 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Making the Chicken Penne with Mushroom Cream Sauce

  • Sear off the chicken breast until cooked through (you can easily cook the chicken hours ahead of time, or even use leftover chicken)
  • Dice the chicken into inch by inch pieces
  • In the same pan you cooked the chicken in (or a fresh pan if you cooked the chicken earlier) add enough olive oil to coat the pan, and sauté the sliced mushrooms (season them when you add them) over medium heat. Cook them until they are browned and the water is evaporated out.
  • While the mushrooms cook, bring a pot of salted water to the boil.
  • When the mushrooms are done, turn the heat off, and add the pasta to the boiling water (stir the pasta every few minutes)
  • When the pasta is a few minutes from being cooked, turn the heat back on the mushrooms and add half the cream; allow it to come to a simmer and start reducing
  • Drain the pasta, and add it to the cream sauce; stir to combine
  • Add the chicken, and a couple tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine
  • Take a look at the amount of sauce; now is the time you can either thin it out, by adding more cream (or even water) or, if you need to thicken it, just let it continue to cook for a few minutes; the starch in the pasta and the heat will thicken it naturally
  • Turn off the heat, and add the spinach; again toss to combine
  • Give your creation a taste and adjust the seasoning if you need to

Serve it up piled high in a pasta bowl, garnish with a bit of parmesan cheese and enjoy!!

Wine Recommendation:  With the earthly mushrooms in this dish, I'm going to recommend a Pinot Noir from Oregon/Washinton.  Something light bodied, with a good amount of acid to cut through the cream sauce.

Total Time: 
45minutes
Prep Time: 
15minutes
Cook Time: 
30minutes
Course: 
Main Ingredient: 
Pasta