What is it about an Italian accent that makes everything sound better? It rolls around your tongue and makes you want to use hand gestures as you’re saying it. Penne con pollo e piselli. It sounds so much better than “pasta with smoked chook and peas, love.”
Regardless of how you say it, this is the perfect comfort food pasta for a Friday night. It makes no pretence towards being healthy, but sometimes you simply need to forget about that.
My daughter and I first tried this many years ago at Grossi Florentini’s Cellar Bar – the pasta bar for that fabulous Melbourne institution at the top end of Bourke Street. We were both devastated when they took it off the menu, but thankfully included it in their original recipe book – I say original recipe book because apparently there’s a new book coming out with Cellar Bar recipes in it. I’m just a little bit excited by that news. In any case, here’s the recipe. In the book it says it will feed 6 people – I’m not so sure about that…although maybe the recommended serving size is less than what we dish up. Ooops.
What you need
- 300g smoked chicken breast cut into small cubes
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4 sage leaves, finely shredded
- 2 tsp good quality pesto
- 100ml white wine
- 400ml chicken stock
- 400ml cream
- 150g peas, blanched in boiling water for a few minutes
- 500g penne pasta
- freshly grated parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano to serve
What you do with it
Saute the chicken pieces in a little olive oil until golden. Set aside.
In a pan deep enough to take all the remaining ingredients and have room for stirring, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is translucent.
Stir in the sage and pesto.
Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half.
Stir in the chicken stock, cream and chicken, season to taste and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the peas to the sauce and cook a further 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente and drain.
Toss the pasta with the sauce.
Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.