This afternoon I went to the gym and pedaled on the recumbent bike while watching Rachael Ray cook. I finished my workout, trying to make a mental shopping list of what I needed at the grocery store to make what she cooked while I pedaled. Food I can remember; nearly everything else is a blur. So I got what I needed on my way home and cooked it. I adapted it somewhat. She was making a crostini thing as a side dish with mushrooms and spinach. I added the mushrooms to the ragu. Here’s my version--a nice dish for a cold winter night.
1 pound crimini mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ pound pancetta, a couple thick slices, finely diced
1 ½ pound boneless chicken thighs, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
1 medium to large onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 carrot, peeled
2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Marsala
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
1 pound whole-wheat or whole-grain rigatoni or other short cut pasta, cooked according to package directions
Handful basil leaves, torn
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in sauté pan. Sauté until mushrooms are brown and set aside.
While mushrooms cook, begin chicken ragu. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the pancetta 3 to 4 minutes then add chicken and brown evenly 5 to 6 minutes. Add the onions to the chicken. Grate the carrot and stir in with the rosemary, bay leaf, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are soft.
Add the Marsala to chicken and vegetables, stir and reduce a minute then add tomatoes and crush with wooden spoon. Add cooked mushrooms. Simmer a few minutes to thicken and combine flavors.
Toss the pasta with the chicken ragu and cheese. Garnish with some torn basil and serve immediately.