This recipe comes from a high school friend of mine, who posted about having this for dinner on Facebook one day a couple of weeks ago. It sounded so good that I knew I had to try it immediately, so I asked her for the recipe, which she was happy to provide. I put it on my menu that week, and we loved it. This is seriously a restaurant-quality meal. It's so flavorful and delicious. It's the kind of meal that causes you to make indecent noises while you're eating it. I'M NOT EVEN LYING.
The original recipe called for sherry, but my friend doesn't cook with alcohol so she replaced the sherry with apple juice. I decided to do the same, since we don't have sherry in the house -- but we do have apple juice because Andrew drinks the stuff like it's going out of style. I'd encourage you to do the same. It sounds strange, but the apple juice really works in this dish. It provides just a hint of fruity sweetness that's a nice balance to the salty bacon and the earthy mushrooms. And don't you dare skip the basil, either -- it's an absolute must that takes this dish over the top. I can't wait to make this one again.
Rigatoni with Chicken, Bacon and Mushrooms
source: adapted from a high school friend
16 ounces rigatoni
Dried oregano or Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
6 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple juice
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
15 fresh basil leaves, julienned
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Cook rigatoni in boiling salted water according to al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with garlic powder, oregano or Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a pan at medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through. Keep warm.
3. Using the same pan, cook the bacon just shy of crispy. Add mushrooms and onions and cook until onions are translucent.
4. Increase heat to high and add apple juice and chicken stock. Stir with a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and let cook for 2 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and half of the basil; season with salt and pepper. Reduce to medium low heat and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.
6. Stir cream and remaining basil into the sauce. Transfer rigatoni to a large serving dish; top with cooked chicken and pour sauce over. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.