The other morning, I was greeted with an unusual summer day. Instead of a dewy morning followed by ever-hotter and more humid weather baring down upon me and my little neighborhood, it was cool, crisp even. I grabbed a sweater when I went to walk the dog and wish I'd also grabbed a scarf. The breeze that blew throughout the day held the promise of the autumn that's well over a month away. It's not a normal day, but every summer hands me a few of these gems and I look forward to some transition meals when they arrive.
A transition meal is simply one that uses ingredients from one season and cooking techniques from another. In this case, chicken thighs are cooked along with some of summer's finest produce: tomatoes, basil, garlic, and green onions. But, instead of a quick meal with minimum use of the stove or something cooked on the grill, it's time to grab a good, heavy skillet. Make sure it's large enough to hold everything and heavy enough to take the heat and distribute it evenly. My go-to choice for a dish like this is the cast iron skillet I've had in my family for generations. And while a lid might be nice for keeping things warm or helping the pasta along in its cooking, it's not required.
I really stand by this as a one pan meal. No additional sides or condiments are required. I like to serve the pasta spooned into a bowl and nestle a crispy-skinned piece of chicken atop each of them. Then grab a fork and dig in. Maybe the little preview of heartier fare yet to come will make the journey to autumn a bit more sweet!
- ½ lb. bacon, chopped
- 4 chicken thighs, bone-in with skin on
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 lb. fusilli pasta
- 1 cup milk
- 8 oz. goat cheese
- 4 oz. grape tomatoes
- One small handful fresh basil, chopped
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 2 green onions, sliced
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the bacon. Cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet and set aside. Leave the bacon fat in the pan.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place skin-side down in the pan. Cook until the chicken gets a dark golden crispy skin. Flip and cook on the other side until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes total. Remove the thighs from the pan and set aside.
Add the garlic to the pan and sauté until fragrant.
Add the pasta and chicken broth to the pan. Be careful adding the broth as to not over fill the pan.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook for 9-12 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Stir occasionally.
When the pasta is almost tender, lower the heat and add in the milk, goat cheese, cooked bacon, grape tomatoes, and chopped basil. Stir to incorporate.
Add the chicken back to the pan. Sprinkle with sliced green onions and serve.
- Yields: 4 servings
- Preparation Time: 1 hour