Fast, Easy Dinner Possible With Little Planning

I’m going to share with you one of my favorite recipes. It is definitely bachelor food. Only a small amount of planning is necessary to make this dish. What planning, you ask? Besides the usual grocery shopping and recipe hunt, it means remembering to take the frozen protein out to thaw the day before. Just transfer the frozen item to the refrigerator. If you fear there might be leaks of moisture would get icky stuff all over the inside of the appliance, simply put it in a shallow dish and then put that in the refrigerator.

Chicken and Broccoli Linguine Alfredo

The great thing about this recipe is that it only makes four servings. I usually get three. A big eater would probably get two. It is quick and simple.

The advance action needed here is to take one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts out of the freezer. That usually would be about two of the individually frozen breasts you can get on sale to keep in the freezer for when needed. Put the frozen breasts on a shallow dish and cover with plastic. Put the dish in the refrigerator the night before.

For equipment, you’ll need a large pot to cook the pasta, a medium skillet, a colander and spoons for cooking.

Most of the ingredients are pantry staples. A one-pound package of linguine, spaghetti or fettuccine starts the list. You’ll use just half of the one-pound box, about four servings worth. A cup of frozen broccoli florets should be standing by.

The pot should be at least a 3-quart size. Fill it with fresh cold water and put it over high heat. A lid will speed up the process but could cause the pot to bubble over. Also, you can’t see what’s happening. When the water starts to boil, add in a couple of teaspoons of salt. When the water comes back up to a rolling boil, add the pasta. Push the long noodles down gently with a spoon until all of the noodles are submerged under the water. Every couple of minutes, stir the pasta to keep it from sticking together. Follow the pasta package directions for al dente pasta. Have a colander standing by, because the pasta will take less than ten minutes.

In the last four minutes of cooking the pasta, add the broccoli. When the broccoli is tender and the pasta cooked, dump the whole pot’s contents into the colander and allow it to drain while you move on to the next step.

Making The Dish

You can start this step a little earlier, while the pasta is cooking if you want. Cut up the chicken breasts into half-inch cubes. You may need to pound them flat first to get more even sizes. The more even you cut your ingredients, the more uniformly they will cook. Some cooks even use a ruler, but eyeballing it is usually good enough.

Heat two tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. If you don’t want to use butter, use extra virgin olive oil. But two tablespoons of butterfat in this dish just adds to the richness rather than add a lot of fat to the dish. This is pasta, so not many diet options here.

Add the chicken cubes and stir often, cook until well browned.

Next, stir in a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, half a cup of milk, and a half-cup of grated or shredded parmesan cheese. Season with a quarter teaspoon of ground black pepper.

Stir in the pasta and broccoli mixture and cook until everything is hot and bubbly. Serve with more grated cheese.

A nice green salad goes great with this simple, filling meal. Start to finish, not counting the defrost time, this should take about 20 minutes.