CLASSIC pasta conchiglie with chicken and ricotta
         

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Here is a chance to create a somewhat more complex baked dish using conchiglie, the large shells. One does "stuff" each shell with the sauce, but we do it in the baking dish, with perhaps a little more looseness. But with clever agility with the spoon it works well and a lot more simply than laboriously filling each shell to perfection before putting it in the dish. (you certainly can go the longer route if you wish).

for the sauce:

  • three tablespoons olive oil
  • two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • one medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • three ounces of prosciutto, julienned in half inch strips
  • eight ounces of chicken, white and dark, fairly finely chopped
  • four ounces of crimini or white mushrooms, stems removed and diced
  • one tablespoon of tomato paste
  • twelve ounces of imported Italian plum tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • one-half cup white wine
  • three teaspoons fresh oregano (one teaspoon dried)
  • eight ounces of ricotta
  • four ounces of mozzarella
  • one quarter cup freshly grated parmesan
  • two tablespoons chopped parsley
  • one tablespoon butter

for the pasta:

  • one pound conchiglie (the large shells allow for a better stuffing result, but you can make the medium and even the small conchiglie work)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a saute pan, over medium heat. Add the garlic; twenty seconds later add the onion. Cook for two minutes. Add the prosciutto. Cook for one minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for three minutes. Add the chicken and cook until it starts to brown.

Add the chopped tomatoes, the tomato paste, the oregano and one teaspoon salt, plus several grindings of the pepper mill. Stir well. Add the wine, turn the heat up, and let it boil for a minute or two. Then turn down the heat to a slow, steady simmer, and let it cook for fifteen minutes.

In five quarts of water, vigorously boiling, add two tablespoons of salt. Add the conchiglie. Stir around. When they are just short of al dente, remove and drain.

Remove the sauce from the heat (if you haven't already done so). Stir in the ricotta and mozzarella and the parsley.

Butter the bottom of a nine by thirteen inch baking dish. Spoon two tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom of the dish. Put the conchiglie in the baking dish, with the opening of the shell out.

Now for the agility part: spoon some sauce into each shell as best you can. Then spoon the rest of the sauce all over, filling the spaces in between (and maybe some more of the shell). Sprinkle on the parmesan.

Bake in the 350 degree oven for twenty minutes, until the edges bubble, and the cheese topping has a touch of golden brown. Serve hot.

 


 

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