There is no excuse for this dish. Any respectable cardiologist (aside from the cheese-munching, chain-smoking French cardiologist my friend dated) would recoil at this recipe. Nonetheless, it is delicious and the ultimate seasonal comfort food. I always serve this in small portions - though your guests will plead for more - and also with a sharp or citrusy winter salad, like the Arugula, Orange and Walnut Salad above. The acid in the salad (and wine) will help cut the richness and fattiness of this dish.
Olive oil, any kind
2 split chicken breasts
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp brandy
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried or 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
4-5 oz. goat cheese or chevre
1/2 pound dried rigatoni
Heat a frying pan large enough to hold the chicken breasts over high heat. While this heats, season both sides of the breasts with the salt and pepper.
When the pan is hot, add a swirl of olive oil.
Add the chicken breasts to the pan.
Sear the breasts until golden brown on both sides.
Reduce heat to low and cook another 5-10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the chicken sit in the pan while you continue with the recipe. It will keep cooking and will become quite tender.
Fill a large pot with cold water and place over high heat. Season the water to taste like the ocean. This will take a good tablespoon of kosher or sea salt, or less iodized table salt (a product you shouldn't own, anyway).
Put a teaspoon of rosemary in the mortar and give a few grinds with the pestle. You do not want to create a powder; you just want to break up any particularly hard or brittle pieces. If you are using fresh rosemary, chop it to the desired texture.
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, salt and rosemary over medium heat. Once the cream mixture reaches the boiling point, reduce the heat to very low and allow this mixture to cook for a few minutes. You want a little of the moisture to come off this, but don't let it boil. Once it thickens just a little, add the goat cheese in chunks.
Stir or whisk this into the sauce until melted and smooth. After a few more minutes of cooking, the sauce should coat the back of a spoon. When it does, turn it off and let sit.
Add the pasta to the seasoned water that is now at a roaring boil. Cook until al dente, usually 10-12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the water in which the pasta was cooked. Return the pasta to the pot in which it was cooked.
Meanwhile, remove the cooked chicken breast to a cutting board. In the skillet you should have about 1/4 or 1/2 cup of pan juices. Turn the heat back up to high and reduce this down to a syrupy tablespoon. Deglaze the pan, scraping up any remaining bits, with the brandy. Reduce this for about 15-30 seconds and pour this dark, delicious and aromatic glaze into the cream mixture and whisk.
Reheat the sauce on a low simmer. On a cutting board, slice the chicken breast into 1/4" slices.
Add the sliced chicken to the cream sauce and turn off the heat.
Dump the cheese sauce over the cooked and drained noodles. Gently turn over to coat the noodles well. The sauce will continue to thicken as this cools, especially once it is plated. So, don't worry that the sauce is too thin. If the sauce is too thick, use some of the reserved pasta water to thin it.
Plate in wide rim or cream soup bowls. Top with a little grated Parmesan, if you wish. Serve with dry wine, a salad and Lipitor.