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Penne with Chicken, Walnuts and Sage Brown Butter

The delicate, nutty flavor of sage brown butter makes this quick pasta dish a great choice for an easy meal. As long as you stay attentive, making brown butter (beurre noisette in French) is simple and a worthwhile technique to perfect. It can add a wonderful depth of flavor to a variety of foods, as in this recipe where it transforms a simple set of ingredients into an elegant dish.

Penne with Chicken, Walnuts and Sage Brown Butter

Penne with Chicken, Walnuts and Sage Brown Butter

  • Ingredients:
  • 1-1/4 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 to 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 10 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Freshly ground nutmeg

Preparation:
Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the penne. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until soft and translucent, about 1-1/2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently until light golden on all sides and no longer pink in the middle, about 3 minutes.

Using a slotted spatula, transfer the chicken to a bowl, then deglaze the pan with the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute, then add the broth mixture to the chicken and set aside.

Place the pan back on the heat and wipe away any moisture. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter begins to foam and the color starts to darken.

Quickly add the walnuts and sage and stir to coat with the butter. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as the butter develops a toasty brown color. Keep a watchful eye as it's very easy to burn. Immediately add the chicken and pan juices, combine well and cover to keep warm.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with the butter-chicken mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Transfer to serving plates and top with the parsley and a sprinkling of freshly ground nutmeg.

Makes 4 servings

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