Stolen flavors and 6-buck bottles of wine: burgundy mushrooms normally belong on (or near) steak, but this take has them sitting pretty atop a pile of whole wheat linguine with spinach and poached chicken. Plus, I got away with using just about the cheapest bottle of wine I’ve had since college to make this meal.
Pasta with Chicken and Spinach in 'Burgundy' Mushroom Cream Sauce
A light take on a mushroom cream sauce will leave you full without feeling guilty.
First things first: there are no ‘burgundy’ mushrooms in this recipe. Primarily, this is due to a lack of, well…burgundy, but I call them my burgundy mushrooms because honestly, they taste very similar to the traditional dish, and they’re just as good. I was craving a pasta with mushrooms tonight, and I was thinking of all the different ways that dish could go – pasta with mushrooms, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers; pasta with mushrooms and peas in a heavy cream sauce – these sounded perfectly good to me, but I wasn’t just cooking for myself, I was also cooking for my mom, so I had to come up with something that both of us would enjoy. I decided to make pasta with mushrooms, spinach and chicken, because she and my dad are firm believers that dinner should always include meat (which is absolutely fine by me), but I wanted to do something interesting with the flavors, so I went with a distinctly burgundy vibe for the ‘shrooms.
Burgundy mushrooms are amazing, rich, slow-cooked bites of fungus-y goodness. I love them next to (or on top of) a steak, but I’ll take ’em any way I can get ’em. On this particular occasion, I stuck with some traditional burgundy flavors (namely, red wine and garlic) but added some cream and other spices to make sure that these babies could double as a delicious pasta topping. The addition of the cream to the mushrooms, which are bathed in red wine (my kinda bath), creates a creamy, yet somehow light sauce for the pasta that perfectly balances out all of the flavors in the dish without overwhelming the fresh, delicious ingredients. In fact, despite having cream, this pasta dish is distinctly un-saucy so, if you prefer a heavier sauce, simply add more wine and cream until you have enough to satisfy your sauce needs. I like it light, because the flavor of the mushrooms really comes through and you can taste the garlic and other spices. That being said, if a more alfredo-reminiscent sauce is your thing, all you have to do is double (or triple) a few ingredients, and you’re in business.
This pasta is one that you could make for a night in, or as a dish meant for entertaining. It’s at once casual and sophisticated, and it takes less than an hour to put together. Here’s how I do it:
3 medium sized chicken breasts
2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
8 cloves garlic (4 peeled and smashed; 4 peeled and chopped)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
1 16-oz package mushrooms (whichever kind you prefer, sliced)
3/4 cup rich, full-bodied red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon**)
1 package or bag fresh spinach leaves
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 box whole wheat linguine pasta (or whatever pasta you like)
Poach the chicken with the peppercorns and smashed garlic cloves by placing the chicken breasts in a dry pot and scattering the peppercorns and garlic on top. Cover with water and simmer, covered for 8-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
Remove chicken and place in large bowl. Once cooled, use two forks and pull chicken apart to shred. Set chicken aside.
Saute chopped garlic in the olive oil over medium-low heat, about two minutes. When garlic is fragrant, add oregano, caraway, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook another minute. Add about 3/4 of the package of mushrooms – or about 10 ounces – and butter, and stir. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, until mushrooms begin to shrink. Bump heat to medium-high and add wine. Cook until half of the wine has burned off, about 3-4 more minutes. Reduce heat and add spinach and stir until spinach is wilted and combined. Remove from heat and add cream and chicken and stir to combine.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. This time, I used a spaghetti because it’s what I had, but I think a penne or tube pasta would actually be the way to go for this dish.
Top pasta with mushroom, chicken and spinach mixture. Top with grated parmesan cheese, enjoy!
**I usually cook with wine that I wouldn’t mind drinking, but I was in a pinch and the grocery store had nothing decent so, not only did I use cab sav when I wanted to use Syrah, I used a $6.00 bottle of wine…and wouldn’t you know it: it turned out great.
Lastly if you wanted to prepare these mushrooms as a steak topping or side dish (which you do), simply leave out the spinach, chicken and cream and follow all other steps as shown here!