When one of my best friends was in her first year of med school, she and her boyfriend started the Hungry in a Hurry Project. The idea: Cull together recipes that were quick to make and delicious to devour and would do a body good. She sent me the first collection and in its pages was what has come to be one of my (and Rob’s) favorite dishes: Maple Curry Chicken Penne.
Though it may sound an odd combination, maple and curry, Rob and I have made this dish for friends several times and it always garners requests for the recipe. It’s quite simple to cook and is forgiving to those—like me and Rob—who forget to buy certain key ingredients—like curry paste. (Our record is not so great: We’ve made it home after shopping for the goods needed to make orange-chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips in hand.)
On Wednesday night, we cooked up a recipe of maple curry chicken penne, with curry powder as the substitute for the curry paste, but here’s how you should really do it:
Maple Curry Chicken Penne
Yield: 4 servings
4 cups penne, cooked to al dente
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2-4 chicken breasts, cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp curry paste
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¾ cup chicken stock
½ cup 1-percent milk
1 tbsp corn starch (if needed)
½ red pepper, chopped
1 tsp chives
Pinch of chilies or crushed red peppers (optional)
3 tbsp cream cheese
Cook pasta to al dente. Set aside.
Heat oil and butter over high heat in a large frying pan. Saute chicken until lightly browned. Add salt and pepper and toss. Remove chicken, leaving juices in the pan, and set aside.
In the pan with the remaining juices, sauté the onion and garlic (adding oil if needed) for 2 minutes. Stir in curry paste and cook 1 minute longer.
Add sugar to the pan. Cook, stirring until sugar starts to caramelize. Add maple syrup and cook for 1 minute.
Add chicken stock and milk. Boil until reduced by half. If it is taking too long to reduce, add corn starch combined with a small amount of water. Add red peppers, chives, and chilies or crushed red pepper, if desired.
Stir in chicken. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and stir until well blended. Add cooked pasta. Toss to coat.
Serve immediately. (Also makes excellent leftovers.)
The above is a slight adaptation to the Hungry in a Hurray recipe I received from my friend based on my own experimenting. (Regretfully, I don’t know where it originally came from so I cannot give credit where credit is due.) One note: There are many steps that required cooking several ingredients for one minute then adding a few more and cooking those for another minute and so on so this is a dish that greatly benefits from preparing a mise en place. Even Rob agrees despite the fact that it creates more dishes to wash.
After we finished cooking, Rob and I ate enjoyed our maple curry chicken penne each with a glass of a 2006 sauvignon blanc from Francis Coppola’s Diamond Collection Yellow Label. It was just a bit sweet so made for the perfect paring to tame the slight kick of this dish. (A Riesling would also be a good match.) Best part of cooking this dish though: We both had tasty leftovers for the next day.