Chicken and Wild Mushroom Pasta

Every time Jeremy comes with me to the farmer’s market, we go home with bags of wild mushrooms from a stand called Rainforest Mushrooms. Usually we get the variety pack, which includes small bags of oysters, shiitakes, and maitakes for $10. And every time I get them home, I scratch my head and try to figure out how to make them edible for me. Although my tolerance of mushrooms has greatly increased in the past two years, I still tend to avoid them: Even without tasting them, the earthy aroma that wafts up as they hit the heat still turns my stomach a little bit, and it takes great fortitude to keep cooking. So when we bring them home, I gravitate toward cooking the same few recipes that I know I’ll like (mushroom bisque and orecchiette duxelles, I’m looking at you!).

This time around, I hit on a new recipe for chicken breasts with wild mushrooms, marjoram and a thin Marsala cream sauce. I ended up adapting the recipe a bit on the fly: butterflying the chicken breasts a bit for quicker cooking, adding sage to the marjoram, and subbing out sherry for the Marsala. I decided to serve it over pasta, and after stirring the mushrooms back into the sauce, I tossed half of that mixture over the hot pasta to soak in a bit while letting the chicken breasts reheat in the remainder. The chicken, which were part of my freezer-clearing project, were on the dry side, but the mushroomy pasta was wonderfully balanced and very savory. I’ve rewritten the recipe below as I would make it again, as a full-fledged pasta dish with bite-sized pieces of chicken, easier to eat with a babe in arms.

Chicken and Wild Mushrooms in Sherry Cream Sauce

2 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into cubes
1 tsp dried marjoram, divided
1 tsp dried sage, divided
2 T butter, divided
2 T olive oil, divided
6 oz assorted wild mushrooms (I used oyster and maitake), thickly sliced
1/2 C sliced shallots

3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 T dry sherry

1/2 lb rotini pasta

Toss cubed chicken with salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp each marjoram and sage. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet and sauté until just cooked through. Transfer chicken to bowl, and cover to keep warm. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add mushrooms and shallots, and remaining marjoram and sage. Sauté until mushrooms are brown and tender, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl with the chicken.

Combine broth, cream, and sherry, in same skillet; boil until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, boil water and cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to low heat when sauce has reduced. Stir chicken, mushrooms and sauce through the pasta, and keep on low heat for a few minutes to allow some of the sauce to be absorbed and the chicken and mushrooms to reheat a bit.

Source: Adapted from Epicurious.

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