Chicken and Broccoli Penne

 I teach pasta-from-scratch cooking classes a few times a week, so I have plenty of recipes for luxurious cream sauces and all-day ragùs in my arsenal. But most nights, I don’t actually feel like rolling and cutting my own pasta or making a labor-intensive, cream-laden sauce.

Chicken and Broccoli Penne

INGREDIENTS
  1. 8 ounces whole wheat penne
  2. 1 (12-ounce) package frozen broccoli
  3. 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, such as canola
  4. 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half into 4 cutlets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  5. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  6. 8 ounces sliced mushrooms, such as baby bella
  7. 2 to 3 large garlic cloves
  8. 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or neufchâtel, cut into cubes
  9. 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  10. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
  • Preheat oven to 200°F. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Stir the penne and frozen broccoli into the boiling water and cook according to the pasta package directions, or about 8 minutes, until al dente. Scoop out 2 cups of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the noodles and broccoli (do not rinse) and return to the pasta pot.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high until sizzling. Pat the chicken breasts very dry with paper towels and season the tops generously with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan, seasoned side down (season the sides facing up once you place them in the pan); do not disturb the chicken once it is in the skillet. Once you can see a bit of golden color forming around the sides, after about 2 minutes or so, take a peek — the goal is to achieve a deep golden brown shade. Be patient, as more color equals more flavor. (Most people flip way too early.)
  • Once you flip the chicken, take its temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Pull it from the pan when the temperature is between 155°F and 160°F. If the chicken is very thin, it may be almost done. If it's on the thicker side, it may need a few more minutes. Checking early allows you to gauge the remaining cooking time.