Friday, June 09, 2006

Southwestern Pasta Bake

From Rachael Ray: 365 No Repeats

Coarse salt
1 pound penne rigate or cavatappi pasta
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 6oz boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp chili powder
Coarse black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 C milk
3/4 pound sharp yellow Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 C fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 C fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat the broiler to high and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta until slightly undercooked-a little chewy at the center.

While the water is coming up to a boil, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil. Season the chicken with cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt and pepper. Add the seasoned chicken to the hot skillet and cook until lightly brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapenos and continue to cook for 5 minutes. While the chicken is cooking with the onions, make the Cheddar sauce.

In a medium sauce pot, melt the butter and add the flour to it. Cook for 1-2 minutes over moderate heat, then whisk in the milk. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro, and parsley with a wooden spoon. Season with a little salt and pepper and remove the cheese sauce from the heat.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the large pot, add the contents of the chicken skillet and all of the cheddar sauce, and stir to combine. Transfer to a baking dish and place under the broiler to lightly brown.

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