Grilled Chicken and Pasta with Poblano Cream Sauce Recipe
I discovered this dish during my last trip to Mexico when I wandered into a little beach-side restaurant looking for food to soak up my Coronas. I wasn't sure about ordering it, because I thought it might be spicy (my stomach was not in the mood). I'm so glad I tried it, it's now one of my favorite recipes.
It's based on the classic baked Mexican recipe, but pieced together from memory and a bit of trial and error (did I mention the Coronas?). Poblano chiles are not spicy, more like green bell peppers with a different flavor. They bring a brightly flavored, almost buttery freshness that combines wonderfully with the mild tanginess of the crema casera and slight saltiness of the chicken.
Crema casera is something I found at the international grocery in my neighborhood. It tastes something like a cross between cream, sour cream and cream cheese and pours as a liquid about twice as thick as whipping cream. You can make your own by mixing 1 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup sour cream, ~2tsp powdered sugar in a closed container and let it sit for 24-36 hours, stirring once. But I've also just used the 1 cup of cream and 1/4 cup of sour cream directly in the sauce with great results.
You can add a bit of spice, if you like. My favorite is 1 small serrano chile. (Make sure to core it and get every single last one of the seeds out unless you know what you're doing.) The cream sauce covers most of the spice but I do think it's nice with just a hint of kick. Remember to wash your hands when you're done with the serrano.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1-2 shallots, diced
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2-3 poblano or pasilla chiles, cored and pureed (~1 1/2 cups)
- 1 small serrano chile, cored and pureed (optional)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup crema casera
- 1/4 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 lb farfalle or campanelle pasta (~half a box), cooked
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Wash the chicken in cold water and place in a bowl with the olive oil and soy sauce. Toss the chicken to coat. Cook on the grill until outer edge is slightly brown and crispy, about 10 minutes each side.
- Boil water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
- Peel and chop the shallots. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Cook the shallots on medium heat until slightly translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Core the poblano and serrano chiles. Place the chiles and milk in a food processor and puree until most of the large bits of green chile skins are broken up.
- Add the chile puree to the saucepan with the shallots. Bring to a low simmer. Cook at a low simmer until most of the liquid from the chiles is gone, about 7 minutes.
- Add the crema casera, broth and salt. Mix well and bring back to a simmer. Taste it, depending on your broth it may need more salt. Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce begins to thicken, usually about 10-15 min. When you can draw a line on the bottom of the pan with the spoon, it's done.
- When the chicken is cooked with crispy edges, take it off the grill and let it cool for a bit. Cut it into 1/2 inch bite-sized slices.
- Place the cooked pasta, grilled chicken and cream sauce into a large mixing bowl. Stir well to fully coat chicken and pasta in the cream sauce.
|Calories from Fat||171|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 19 g||29%|
|Saturated fat 9 g||45%|
|Carbohydrates 53 g||18%|
|Sugar 4 g|
|Fiber 4 g||16%|
|Protein 24 g||48%|
|Cholesterol 82 mg||27%|
|Sodium 220 mg||9%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Feel free to experiment with the chicken to suite your tastes. The soy sauce gives it a salty kick, almost a mild brining, and the olive oil helps it to brown. I have a gas grill that makes things easy, but when the weather doesn't agree I've also fried it in a bit of oil after tossing it in some flour to aid in browning.
When cooking the chiles with the shallots you just want to break down the texture of the chiles a bit before adding the cream. I've experimented with charing the skins of the chiles but I thought it was more effort than it was worth. I've been advised against cooking cream sauces too long, but in this dish you can definitely taste a noticeable and deliciously positive change in the sauce about 5-7 minutes after adding the cream. Don't worry about cooking it too long. You're looking for a consistency that will coat the chicken and pasta nicely without being runny. If it starts off too thick, add a bit more broth and let it cook down for a while.
My only gripe is that it sometimes takes me a bit longer to make than I'd like, but it's quite delicious so I do frequently still find time. If you have some shortcut suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them. Good luck and let me know how it goes.