What to do with leftover roasted chicken breasts?
I roasted a couple of chickens the other night and will write about roasting chickens another time. As long as I was roasting one whole chicken, I might as well roast two and use the meat from the second chicken for something else. And as long as I was going to roast chicken, I might as well roast some vegetables.
We ate part of the first chicken one night with the vegetables and wanted to use the leftovers for another meal, so I looked to see what I had in my refrigerator and pantry and decided to make a Penne with Chicken & Peas in a Cream Sauce.
I had everything I needed in stock, avoiding another trip to the supermarket. I don't enjoy hanging out in the supermarket, but two or three times a week is enough.
I put together a good recipe but thought it needed a bit of flavor help, so I wrote to my friend Chef Ricco, who is currently working in India starting a restaurant, and asked what I could have done to make this recipe better. The recipe below combines what I came up with and Chef Ricco's suggestions.
Roast Chicken Alternatives
If you don't feel like roasting whole chickens, you can buy already roasted chickens at the supermarket or use uncooked chicken breasts that you cook in the pan yourself. The advantage of cooking raw chicken is the extra flavor you'll get from sautéing the chicken (see fond on my Pan Sauces page).
I hope you enjoy it, and please write and make your suggestions or comments.
Uncooked Chicken Method
If you use uncooked chicken, you'll start by sautéing the chicken first, before the onions and peppers. So cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces and sauté them in butter and olive oil.
Cook until almost done but only some of the way. You can finish cooking the chicken when you return it to the pan. Otherwise, you risk overcooking it.
Remove the chicken from the pan, add the onion and pepper, and follow the rest of the recipe above.
An alternative would be to sauté the chicken breast whole, let it rest while making the sauce, and cut it up just before adding it back to the pan.
It doesn't make much difference, but if you try it both ways, please let us know which you prefer.
Penne with Chicken & Peas in a Cream Sauce
- ½ pound penne pasta cooked to al dente
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 slices red onion diced
- ½ red bell pepper finely diced (Ricco suggested using roasted red peppers for more flavor and adding them toward the end of the recipe)
- ¼ cup white wine or brandy
- 1 chicken breast cut up into pieces (cooked or uncooked)
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Parmigiano cheese grated
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the oil and butter.
- When hot but not smoking, add the onion and diced pepper. Sauté until the onion is translucent.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine or brandy and continue cooking until most of the wine has cooked off. This will add another layer of flavor.
- Season the already cut up cooked chicken with some freshly ground pepper and add it to the pan to reheat for about one minute.
- Add the half and half, nutmeg, parsley and peas being sure to mix together with a wooden spoon. Raise the heat to medium-high but as soon as the half and half comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium or medium-low and reduce the sauce to desired consistency (thickness).
- When the sauce is just the way you like it, add some freshly grated cheese or try the crumbled up Roquefort.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Drain the pasta but reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water to add to the sauce if the sauce appears to be too thick. This thins out the sauce while giving it a little flavor from the cooked pasta.
- Add the pasta to the saucepan; toss well and serve.
Some of My Favorite Chicken Recipes
- Chicken Baked in Cornbread Recipe
- Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Plums Potatoes and Onions
- Quick and Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe
- Chicken Mushroom and Spinach Comfort Food Recipe
- Southern California Style Chicken with Rice and Beans Recipe
- Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and Artichoke Hearts Recipe
- Simple Chicken - Tomato - Pasta Recipe
- Chicken Korma Recipe