The other day, Joy got me thinking about Engagement Chicken. Not only how silly it is, but also how important food is if it can garner such a response. Truthfully, I never made engagement chicken until I was done well married, but I have made it, and yes, it’s freaking fantastic. But it’s not just that–it’s a life skill learned in trussing and roasting a chicken..which is probably why they say if you can roast a chicken, you have marriage skillz? I do not know.
Let’s not assign good meals to married folk only. A good meal deserves a place in your wheelhouse. This pasta is one of those impressive dishes that you should master and keep in your back pocket for a special occasion. (By the way, a special occasion is mopping and vacuuming your whole house, instead of doing one or the other. Or, Tuesday. Tuesday works, too).
I’m a huge fan of pasta with cream sauce. (who isn’t?) But, I discovered a quick way to make a cream sauce that doesn’t require an extra skillet! After I deglaze the mushroom pan with a hefty dose of wine, I pour the hot wine into a big bowl for tossing the pasta. Then, I add the cream cheese, cut into cubes. Top with the hot pasta, right out of the boiling water, and toss, toss, toss. The cream cheese will melt and coat the noodles so lovingly. It’s the best. It’s worthy of diamonds. Or an entire bottle of wine to yourself. Whatevs.
The first time you make this dish, it will be a bit of a blur. It has a handful of steps, but you’ll find your rhythm get better each time you make it. And you will be making this over and over, trust me. And you won’t be single for long, trust me. Or maybe you will. Maybe it’s not your cooking skills; maybe it’s your breath. Just sayin’.
10 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
40 minTotal Time
- 6 ounces dried spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 10 ounces sliced mushrooms
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small chicken breasts
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the spaghetti noodles.
- Meanwhile, in a large not non-stick skillet, melt the butter and thyme over medium heat.
- Add the sliced mushrooms to the skillet, and stir to coat in butter. Leave them to cook for a few minutes undisturbed so that a nice crust forms. Stir, and repeat until the mushrooms are golden brown. It will take about 15 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms from the pan, leaving the butter and thyme in the pan. Add the oil to the pan.
- Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high, and sear the chicken breasts on both sides in the same pan that the mushrooms were in. Again, let cook undisturbed so that a nice crust forms. If the chicken is sticking to the pan, it's because the first side isn't done searing. It will release when it's golden brown.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, and cover to keep warm.
- Turn the heat down to low and add all of the wine
- Allow the wine to cook down slightly while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all of the brown bits into the wine.
- Dice the cream cheese and place in a large bowl.
- Discard the thyme sprigs from the pan, and then pour the hot wine over the cream cheese, and stir until it melts. There might be a few small pieces, but the hot pasta will dissolve them.
- When the pasta is done, drain it, and immediately pour it over the wine-cream cheese mixture. Toss the noodles to melt and evenly distribute the cream cheese sauce.
- Stir the mushrooms into the pasta bowl.
- Slice the chicken, and serve on top.
- *This pasta is best served immediately after making it. The cream cheese will set up if allowed to set. Not that you can't re-heat it, but it will be t-h-i-c-k. Plan accordingly.