A simple dish of pasta tossed in a creamy, lemony sherry sauce, with sweet red peppers and gently poached chicken.
Why this recipe works:
- A lively, lemony, garlicky cream sauce gets depth from sherry.
- Simmering the chicken breast in cream sauce rather than sautéing it allows the meat to soak up the flavor of the sauce while preventing it from getting chewy and dried out.
- Finishing the pasta in the pan sauce infuses it with flavor and helps thicken it.
Note: The sauce holds well in the refrigerator for a day or two. If you opt to prepare it in advance, hold off on adding the butter and don't toss the sauce with the pasta until you're ready to serve the dish.
- Yield:Serves 4
- Active time: 25 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 2 shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 red bell peppers, sliced (about 2 cups)
- 1/3 cup dry sherry
- 10 ounces heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons juice and 2 teaspoons grated zest from 1 to 2 lemons
- 1 pound chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat olive oil in a large straight-sided sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and shallots and cook, stirring often, until nearly softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add peppers and continue to cook until softened, another 2 minutes.
Add sherry, raise heat to medium-high and scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Let simmer for 1 minute, then add heavy cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cook pasta until just barely undercooked (about 1 minute less than package directions). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water. Add drained pasta to sauce. Return sauce to high heat. Swirl in butter and cook, stirring constantly, until pasta is fully cooked and sauce has thickened slightly. Adjust seasonings to taste and adjust sauce thickness with reserved pasta water. Toss with Parmesan and basil and serve immediately.