Cooking on the Cheap: Chicken Penne in Heaven Sauce

2

September 1, 2009 by skwishface

How’s that for a modest recipe name, eh? Honestly, I feel like this recipe came from on high, like I was merely the mortal vessel blessed to bring it into this world. Like maybe the sauce was spun into being by a divine hand and graced upon my stove by immaculate means. I certainly couldn’t have had anything to do with it.

It’s that good. This sauce, I kid you not, silenced my son. The Boy usually spends dinner busily chattering a steady mash-up of real words and gibberish, pausing only to breathe and cram the occasional bite of food into his mouth. For this meal, the only time he spoke was to ask for seconds. Spooky.

Not only is this stuff delish, it’s affordable. Canned tomatoes and the chicken came in a bargain frozen pack. We’re talking cents, here. Also, there are scads of leftovers that reheat magnificently.

Heaven Sauce (prep time: 5 minutes, cook time: 30+ minutes)
1 large can whole, peeled tomatoes
1 large can tomato sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 large white onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
salt, pepper, dried oregano, red pepper flakes to taste

Printable version of this recipe can be found here!

(marinade for the chicken)
2 cloves garlic, grated or mashed
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup lemon juice
just less than 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Whisk all ingredients together, add to 3-4 chicken breasts in a bowl or ziploc baggy. Mix together till the chicken is coated, seal/cover, let sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

This is what happens when you have to crop unused ingredients out of the shot.

This is what happens when you have to crop unused ingredients out of the shot.

First! Choppa-choppa-choppa the onions and garlic.

God Bless the Santoku knife.

God Bless the Santoku knife.

It doesn’t have to be pretty, cuz this is all going in the blender later.

Grab your favorite big sauce pot, drizzle in a smidge of olive oil, and drop in the veggies. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. How much is up to you. I, um … I like alot.

Alot.

Alot.

Yes, I’ll be serving this to a 2-year-old. But there’s going to be cream in the sauce to help balance out the heat, right? Right? Sigh.

Stir those veggies around until they’re soft and translucent. And your kitchen smells like magic. Then toss them in the blender.

Thus.

Thus.

I blend up alot of veggies. Because The Husband won’t eat a piece of onion or pepper he can visually identify. No matter how tiny I chop them, if he spots one morsel he’ll spend the rest of the meal painstakingly picking them all out of his food. It’s infuriating. To save myself the aggravation, and still keep these marvelous flavors, the blender is employed. If I could get it to break the veggies down to a molecular level, I would. Liquefied will have to do.

Next! Crack open your can of whole tomatoes and strain off the juices.

So pretty! So affordable! So ... like big eyeballs.

So pretty! So affordable! So ... like big red eyeballs.

I really should just rename this entire site An Ode To Canned Tomatoes. I use them with startling frequency. In this particular case, they add a great texture and tanginess to the sauce, without which it would not be so heavenly. Throw them into the blender with the onions and garlic, hit the button and let the whirling blades do their thing till you get the consistency you want. It should be fairly thick.

bloop!

bloop!

Pour your can of tomato sauce into the same pot you sauteed the onions and garlic in. No sense in dirtying another dish or losing the flavors you’ve got clinging to the insides of that pot.

Now it’s time to put the sauce together …

Add the blender mixture to the pot.

Add the blender mixture to the pot.

Then a great deal of dried oregano.

Then a great deal of dried oregano.

Stir that together and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Then …. oh my … then ….

And a hush falls over the crowd...

And a hush falls over the crowd...

You could probably spare yourself the calories and substitute half-n-half. I just happened to have heavy cream left over from a marathon baking session that weekend. Seriously! It’s  like little flocks of angels stocked my kitchen!

Stir it all together and let it simmer another ten minutes or so. Taste it to see if it needs salt or anything else.

Now try to stop tasting it long enough to cook the rest of the meal.

Now try to stop tasting it long enough to cook the rest of the meal.

Resist the (very powerful) urge to just rip open a loaf of bread and start dipping. It’s time to turn our attention to what this sauce shall grace with its presence.

Penne pasta and marinated chicken breasts! Huzzah!

Penne pasta and marinated chicken breasts! Huzzah!

Most of the chicken breasts I cook with come out of a frozen bargain pack. Big ol’ bag of chicken bits. They’re odd sizes and tend towards flavorlessness. So I give them some help with a quick marinade and toss then into a medium-hot pan. This is the easiest way I’ve found to cook up chicken, and one of the first cooking skills I ever conquered. Ah, memories.

Raw chicken kinda ooks me out.

Raw chicken kinda ooks me out.

Much better! I wish you could smell my kitchen right now.

Much better! I wish you could smell my kitchen right now.

Press your face up to the screen and breathe deep.

Press your face up to the screen and breathe deep.

While the chicken is cooking, boil a vat of water, salt the hell out of it, and cook your penne pasta. Forget to take a picture of this process. Curse under your breath so your preschooler son doesn’t learn any new profanity.

Let your chicken rest a bit, then slice it up. By now, your sauce should be reduced down to a creamy, robust texture. Also, there should be a chorus of angels heralding the sauce’s arrival. No angels, sauce isn’t done yet. (untrue)

Throw it all on a plate and enjoy a very quiet meal.

Shhh ...

Shhh ...

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2 thoughts on “Cooking on the Cheap: Chicken Penne in Heaven Sauce

  1. Michelle says:

    I was looking for something I used to have….. It was from a place in Portland, ORE . It had salmon, spinach, mushrooms.. I will try yours though, it sounds good.

  2. erinholcomb says:

    love your blog. it’s the perfect combination of convenient and simple yet still homemade and still good! can’t wait to try this & the enchiladas verdes among others!

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