Monday, June 18, 2012

Spinach Pasta with Chicken and Porcini Mushroom Sauce

You know how you go off on vacation and then come back with a list of stories you just can't wait to share with everyone? By list of stories I mean mostly food porn and what it was like to dine in sophisticated countries like France and Italy :) I am a foodie and food blogger and just over a week ago I came back from the South of France and Tuscany. I had a culinary adventure that many foodies dream of and I am super excited to be able to share some of it with you! In fact, I have already written a few posts about my time there. I shared many photos of the farmer's market in downtown Toulon, France. I wrote about dining in Florence and Tuscany, wine tasting in Greve in Chianti, and my visit to the Amedei factory, home of the world's best chocolate. Now I want to share what it was like to cook in a farmhouse in Tuscany :) Don't worry, this time I have a recipe to share with you as well ;)

My husband is French so we go to France quite often to visit family. He is from the South of France and on this past trip, we took a road trip to Florence and Tuscany. As a new food blogger and fairly new baker, I was even more excited to go to Europe on this trip. It's strange how different your experience can be when you look at it from a different perspective. In the past when we visited the family, we would just eat whatever was given to us and stuff ourselves silly. Some times we wouldn't know what we were eating and we didn't take pictures of food unless it was one of the craziest things we have ever seen. Now, I order food with food blogging in mind and I take photos of pretty much everything at the table and at every angle! I even take pictures of other people's food at my table just for documentation. Many times, my mother-in-law would be asking what I was doing and why I was taking so many pictures of food. Lol. I noted down name of dishes, places where we bought our food, and how much we paid for it so that I could compare it to prices in Canada. I really went to Europe this time around to document food! :)


 
 

We rented a farmhouse close to Florence and stayed there for a week. It was a complete unit with a full kitchen, living room, and outside patio. I took advantage of the kitchen and cooked a couple of times. We also had coffee, breakfast, and light dinners at the farmhouse nearly every day. On the day we decided to take a break from touring and spend more time at the farmhouse, I cooked us a big pasta meal. Well it had to be pasta since we were in Italy! Without much thought, I made one of my favorite pasta dishes :) It's actually based off another recipe from an old book of my brother's that uses duck and normal white mushrooms. I have made it countless times and because I do it from memory, it always tastes a bit different. This time around I was able to use a lot of fresh ingredients, including giant fresh porcini mushrooms (at least I think that's what they were called). It was so exciting! The mushrooms looked so great and I was looking forward to cooking a big meal at the farmhouse since we arrived in Tuscany. I mean how many times in my life do I get to shop at the local grocery store in Tuscany and then go to my own farmhouse to cook pasta for my family? It was such a lovely farmhouse and countryside too. That day, my husband and 3 year old went off to swim and play in the pool at the back of the farmhouse while I cooked in the kitchen. They were working up an appetite :) I was so great to be able to cook in beautiful Tuscany and the family loved the food. We ate very very well that evening :)





Spinach Pasta with Chicken and Porcini Mushroom Sauce
Serves 8-10

900 g spinach pasta (fettuccine & penne works well)

Sauce

1 free range whole chicken
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup white wine
4 cubes of organic chicken stock (I used 2 chicken cubes & 2 vegetable cubes)
2 cups water
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 medium onions, chopped
2 lbs of fresh mushrooms, chopped (use something exotic like porcini)
1 handful of dried mushrooms (I used porcini)

1 cup whipping cream
salt/pepper to taste

Garnish

Parmesan, grated
Fresh Italian parsley, minced

Rinse dry mushrooms and then soak them in 1/2 cup of hot water. Fry chicken in olive oil until slightly brown. Add wine and boil until it's reduced by half. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and chicken stock cubes. Cover and simmer on low for about 45 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool. Save all the broth from the pot. When the chicken is cool enough, shred the meat from it. You can add the bones back to the broth and simmer a bit more for extra flavor or just discard the bones.

Fry the garlic, onions, and fresh mushrooms in some olive oil in a large casserole pot. Drain the dry mushrooms but save the mushroom broth. Finely chop the porcini mushrooms and then add them to the pot. Add the chicken meat, chicken broth, mushroom broth and salt and pepper. Add whipping cream. Cover and simmer on low.

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain. Wash and chop parsley. To serve, scoop some pasta onto a plate, followed by a generous serving of sauce. Top with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

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