From America's Test Kitchen Season 7: Streamlined Chicken Skillet Suppers
This classic restaurant dish rarely lives up to its promise. The flavors are mediocre, the texture suffers from overcooking (bone-dry chicken), or the sauce is oily and contains an overpowering amount of garlic. Our challenge would lie in getting the flavors and textures just right: well-seasoned, tender chunks of chicken, crisp broccoli, and pasta in a light, fresh-flavored sauce. At the same time, we wanted to streamline its preparation for an easy weeknight dinner.
To start, we turned to our skillet to make short work of this dish. First we browned pieces of skinless, boneless chicken breasts in the skillet, then we removed the chicken to build our sauce. (Briefly cooking the chicken, then reheating it later in the sauce would keep it from overcooking.) We started with a base of sautéed onion, a modest amount of garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. And to keep all our work limited to the skillet, we cooked the pasta right in the sauce. The broccoli went in next, along with chopped sun-dried tomatoes for depth of flavor. We then covered the skillet and simmered everything just until the broccoli turned bright green. At this point, we returned the chicken to the pan to finish cooking.
A few final touches: a little heavy cream made the sauce silky without obscuring the flavor of the broccoli and chicken. Grated Asiago cheese enriched the sauce and gave it a pleasantly tangy flavor. And a little lemon juice added a bright note. Our chicken, broccoli, and ziti not only boasted a great balance of flavors and textures, but it was quick and easy to prepare as well.
This recipe also works well with 8 ounces of penne. Parmesan cheese can be substituted for the Asiago.