Creature of Comfort

I’m a creature of comfort and prefer predictable conditions. Oh, you’re going camping? See you when you get back! Need help painting your house on the hottest day of the year? Here’s the number for my friend who is super hearty and thrives on performing manual labor in triple digit heat. You just made stew and need help eating it from within the confines of 90 blankets in a room full of couches, soft light, and classical music? That’s where I come in. Yesterday was not a comfortable day. After an ill-advised marathon-style evening of champagne consumption on Sunday, I really wasn’t interested in doing much yesterday other than emitting moans from the living room couch. I had no energy and felt cold all day; classic conditions for comfort food!

Braised chicken thighs, whole wheat penne, and fresh basil come together with a light saffron cream. This is not a complicated meal to prepare, and the flavors are rich and rewarding without being too heavy. Add a pinch of shaved parmesan cheese at the end and you will be moaning on the couch no more. Er, at least I wasn’t…

Braised Chicken with Whole Wheat Penne

Serve 2 (with leftovers!)

Adapted from Bon Appetit


1 lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs


2 T Olive Oil

1 Large Yellow Onion, diced

5 Garlic Cloves, minced

2 C Dry White Wine

1 Pinch Saffron Threads

2 C Low Sodium Chicken Broth

5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme

1/3 C Half-And-Half

1 T Lemon Juice

½ C Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped

2 C Whole Wheat Penne Pasta

Parmesan Cheese for Garnish

Directions: Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate. Add onions and garlic to drippings in pot; sauté until onions are slightly softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Add wine and saffron to onions in pot; bring to boil. Continue to boil until liquid is thickened and reduced by less than half, about 8 minutes. Add 2 cups chicken broth and thyme sprigs to pot; bring to a boil. Return chicken to pot and reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer gently until chicken is tender, approx 1 hour. Transfer chicken to plate to cool. Shred chicken into bite sized pieces when cooled completely. Strain juices from pot into medium saucepan and discard solids.

In a separate pot, cook pasta in salted water until just tender. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, spoon off fat from juices in saucepan; discard fat. Add half-and-half to saucepan and boil until sauce is reduced by half and is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, then chicken pieces. Stir over medium heat until heated through.  Season with salt and pepper as needed. Add chicken mixture to pasta in pot and toss to coat. Stir in basil. Transfer pasta to plates and garnish with shredded parmesan. Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Creature of Comfort

  1. Made this with a few geographically necessary substitutions (ok, Maine, I can understand that you might not always have saffron. But no fresh basil?) This has a fantastic, rich flavor with lots of depth. Thanks for sharing!

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