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 a simple and 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.
- 1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 3 to 4 shallots, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 8 fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
- 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Freshly ground nutmeg
Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the penne. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon of 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. Add the chicken broth and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the chicken, along with the pan juices to a bowl and set aside.
Wipe any remaining moisture from the pan and add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. 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
A buttery California Chardonnay makes a nice pairing with this dish.