The dinner before any start is all about carb loading for Scott. The more carbs the better! We like to stick with a pasta, and for a few years it became a tradition that he ate this particular pasta before every start! Even when he was on the road he would go to Cheesecake Factory and have this exact dish the night before. He’s had some of his best starts his comeback years from eating this pasta the night before. Sometimes even the leftovers for lunch the day of! I’m not saying this pasta is going to turn you into an All-Star overnight, but it is arguably a jumping off point. 😜 I’ve made this pasta so many times I feel like I could practically cook it with my eyes closed, but I wouldn’t do that because that’s irresponsible and I’ve become fond of my sense of touch over the years and would like to keep it that way.
Any whoooooo….here’s what you’ll need to be awesome in life:
2-3 pound split chicken breast (Split Breast is skin on bone-in chicken breast) Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 tablespoons of olive oil
One large head of garlic
Olive oil for drizzling
16 oz of farfalle or bow tie pasta
4 oz diced pancetta (if you can’t find pancetta use thick cut bacon and dice it into small cubes)
1 cup sliced cremini or baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup diced white onion
8 oz jar of sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
I start with roasting the chicken and garlic first then I get to making the sauce for the pasta when the chicken is half way done.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place split chicken breast on a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Season both sides with salt and pepper and coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside.
Cut the head of garlic horizontally about 1/4 of the way down from the tip. You want to cut it so you have the ends of the garlic exposed but you aren’t discarding a large amount of garlic. You will also want to peel off the multiple outer layers of “paper” from the garlic so you are left with one solid piece holding the cloves together. See picture.
Now you have two options on how to roast the garlic. One is placing the garlic in a muffin tin cut side up and the other is creating your own cup with aluminum foil if you don’t have a muffin tin. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil over the garlic letting it get in between the individual pieces. Now cover the top of the garlic with an additional piece of aluminum foil.
Place the chicken and garlic in the oven at the same time. You’ll roast the chicken for 30-35 minutes or more until internal temperature is 165 degrees. The garlic will roast an additional 10 minutes or so until it is golden brown on the top (a total of 45 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside to cool long enough to handle later. Once cooled, set aside the drippings from the chicken in a small bowl or measuring cup. We will be adding this to the pasta sauce later. Remove the skin from the chicken and discard (I’ve mentioned this before that I can’t help but snack on the crispy skin while I’m cooking it’s just so good!) Remove the chicken from the bones and cube the chicken and set aside to add to the pasta later. We will warm it back up in the sauce. As for the garlic, once it’s cool enough to handle you are going to squeeze it out of its “paper.” You are going to start from the base of the garlic and squeeze until all the individual cloves come out of the “paper” and set aside to add to the pasta later. Its ok if it comes out like a paste too. Even better!
Roasted garlic is a game changer, it becomes so sweet and flavorful and adds an amazing touch to the sauce in any pasta dish.
Once I have the garlic and chicken in the oven I like to spend time prepping the ingredients for the sauce.
When the chicken and garlic has roasted about half way through cooking time, heat a large stock pot with salted water to a boil. Cook pasta al dente according to packaging and drain. Keeping about a cup of the pasta water set aside.
In a large skillet, heat on medium high cook the pancetta until crispy rendering the fat, about 3-5 minutes. Remove pancetta from pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined dish leaving behind the fat in the pan.
Add mushrooms to pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms have soaked up most of the liquid in the pan. Now add onions and sauté for another 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent.
Now add the chopped sundried tomatoes and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add white wine and let the liquid reduce by half for about 3 minutes.
Once the wine has reduced, lower the heat and add heavy cream, roasted garlic, and pan drippings then simmer for 5 minutes allowing the garlic to infuse the cream sauce. Add diced chicken to the pan warming it through. Sprinkle in the grated Parmesan cheese and toss, incorporating it into the sauce until it melts. Season sauce with salt and pepper about 1/8 teaspoon each or more depending on your taste. This is where you might need your reserved pasta water. If your sauce looks too thick, you can thin it out with a little bit of the pasta water. If it looks just right, discard the water and give yourself a high five for being prepared! Remove sauce from heat and add the frozen peas. They will warm through almost immediately. Toss the cooked pasta, sauce, parsley, and crispy pancetta together and serve.
***This pasta dish will not guarantee you will become an All-Star but sharing the recipe with everyone and their mom will guarantee good karma is coming your way!