Sweet & Hot Chicken Pasta (because isn't that what we all want? Some sweet 'n hot lovin' from our Valentine?)
1 box of penne or rigatoni pasta (uncooked)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 chicken breast halves (skinless & boneless, cut into bite-size pieces)
2 tbsp white/red wine/balsamic vinegar
1 mango (peeled, seeded and cubed)
2 large onions, sliced
1 green bell pepper (cut into thin strips)
1 red bell pepper (cut into thin strips)
1 jalapeno/serrano pepper, chopped
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less depending on how hot you want this)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more to pass around)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
1. Marinate the chicken with salt, pepper, cayenne, vinegar (and really any other spices you feel like throwing in that day - sometimes I use allspice or dry mustard) for 30 mins.
2. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat, then brown the chicken pieces for 10 mins. Take them out and keep them aside.
3. Add in the rest of the olive oil and reduce the heat to medium. Add in the sliced onions and peppers. Let them soften. Then mix in the garlic, mango (DON'T get the canned stuff) and jalapeno pepper. Continue to cook and stir for 5 mins, or until the mango is soft. Add back the chicken.
4. Gradually mix in the heavy cream, cook 5-10 more minutes, until sauce is thickened.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the dry pasta and cook per the package instructions. Drain (keeping a cup of the pasta water aside) and add the pasta straight into the skillet with the sauce.
6. Mix well, along with the parmesan cheese, adding more salt and pepper as you go along (don't be afraid of a lot of seasoning; this needs it). You can add more cayenne if it needs more heat. A few sprinkles of sugar, or some apple juice can also be added if you want it a bit sweeter. This is a very accomodating sauce!
7. Once the sauce is seasoned enough to your liking, and is thick enough to cover all the pasta (if it's too thick, just add some of the pasta water you saved), it's ready to be garnished with parsley and more parmesan.
This pasta is such a crowd-pleaser. I have to give it some credit and send it right over to Ruth at Once Upon A Feast (I just love her blog's name, don't you?!) for a rather special round-up of Presto Pasta Nights. It's their TWO-year anniversary *confetti, balloons, applause*!