If you can count on a TV chef to come up with recipes that are not only comforting and nourishing, but also easy, it is Food Network’s. The pioneer woman star Ree Drummond.
And her best comfort food recipe on the network comes as no surprise.
Ree Drummond’s Chicken Mozzarella Pasta is the Ultimate Comfort Food
Drummond calls this Food Network’s top-rated recipe “one of my family’s favorite dinners.” It’s filling and delicious, and best of all, it doesn’t take a long time to make.
On her career-launching “Pioneer Woman” blog, Drummond wrote of the recipe: “One of my favorite and easiest pasta on the planet. Incorporate pieces of fresh mozzarella into the finished sauce and when ready to serve, it is pleasant, soft and melting. Fast, easy and delicious.
In Drummond’s recipe, al dente pasta meets melt-in-your-mouth cheese, hearty chicken, and mozzarella for a meal that will satisfy even the pickiest.
You will need to have on hand: penne or rigatoni, olive oil, chicken that you cut into pieces suitable for a fork, onion, garlic, a pot of your favorite marinara sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, water, fresh parsley, fresh mozzarella, parmesan and fresh basil leaves.
Start this recipe
While the ingredient list might seem a little intimidating, the home cook’s recipe (full recipe and instructions can be found here) effortlessly assembles.
First, fill a pot of pasta with water and bring it to a boil as you will need it later in the recipe. Meanwhile, Drummond begins by cooking the bite-sized pieces of chicken. “I cut them into pretty small pieces because it will cook them a bit faster,” she said on the Food Network video for this recipe. Once the chicken has “a nice color on the outside” it can be removed from the pan and set aside. Drummond notes that the chicken does not need to be cooked all the way because it will be added to the pan with the pasta sauce and will continue to cook.
Now a diced onion is added to the pan, followed by diced garlic (“Turn the heat down a bit.”) While the onions and garlic are sautéing, the pasta is added to the pot of boiling water. Drummond notes, “I make penne pasta, but of course you can make rigatoni, pretty much any type of pasta you have in your pantry. There are no rules, just use what you have.
Marinara sauce brings together Drummond’s recipe
Drummond is turning to the sauce now that the onions and garlic have browned. To save time, the cook uses “a very good quality marinara sauce straight out of a jar. It’s a really delicious shortcut ingredient. She adds a ladle of hot pasta water to the marina sauce to relax it. Crushed red pepper is added “to give it a little boost”, and at this point the chicken is returned to the pan. “It’ll simmer, finish cooking, make the sauce even more delicious.”
Chopped fresh parsley is added “to give it a little green” and the sauce continues to cook for almost 10 minutes. Finally, chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese are added to the sauce (“It really elevates this dish to a chicken marinara pasta base”). Drummond notes on his food blog that chunks of cheese are better “to be on the firm side than the shattering side!” You can always heat it up a bit more to get the cheese at the consistency you want.
The pasta is served hot on a plate and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, and the hot marinara sauce with chicken and cheese is then poured over the pasta. Sprinkle with freshly chopped basil for a beautifully served meal.
As one happy reviewer of Drummond’s recipe said on the Food Network website: “My family loved it. Thanks, Ree – I never miss you.
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