Pasta with a splash

Using wine, beer or cider in cooking is a long-accepted — and appreciated — concept. But cooking with “hard” drinks like whisky is still somewhat rare.

The sauce for this chicken and mushroom pasta is enlivened by a splash of whisky.

Using wine, beer or cider in cooking is a long-accepted — and appreciated — concept. But cooking with “hard” drinks like whisky is still somewhat rare.

The sauce for this delicious chicken and mushroom pasta is enlivened by a splash of whisky.

Whisky’s lack of sweetness makes the savoury flavours of mushrooms, chicken broth and cheese seem more intense.

There are a couple worries people often have about using whisky in a dish like this.

But really, they should not give you any worries.

First, you do not need to fear that you may be feeding alcohol to your children in their supper.

The heat and length of time of cooking ensures that only the flavour of the drink remains.

The second concern regards the cost and use of whisky itself in cooking.

Some people like to complain that putting good whisky into a pasta sauce is the waste of a good drink.

The answer for that: if food products are made for enjoyment, where is the harm in expanding the means by which they can be enjoyed?

Try this unique sauce and determine for yourself if the sacrifice is worth it.

Pasta With Chicken, Whisky and Mushrooms

500 g (1 lb) penne pasta

10 g (1/2 oz) porcini mushrooms

250 ml (1 cup) hot water

30 ml (2 tbsp) butter, divided

1 shallot, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

5 ml (1 tsp) fresh thyme, chopped

15 ml (1 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil

250 g (8 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced into strips

250 ml (1 cup) whipping cream

125 ml (1/2 cup) chicken stock

125 ml (1/2 cup) whisky

250 ml (1 cup) frozen peas, thawed

250 ml (1 cup) cherry tomatoes, halved

Salt and pepper, to taste

250 ml (1 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

Soak porcini mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes. Remove mushrooms from water and set aside.

Line a strainer with a coffee filter and strain soaking water.

Reserve 125 ml (1/2 cup).

In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the butter. Add shallot and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent.

Add garlic, mushrooms and thyme. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat olive oil and remaining butter in pan over medium heat.

Add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes until cooked through. Remove from heat and add to mushroom mixture. Add cream, reserved porcini water, chicken stock and whisky to pan. Cook until liquid is reduced by half to a medium-thick consistency and lightly coats a spoon.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Add 15 ml (1 tbsp) salt to water. Cook pasta, uncovered, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well.

Add mushroom mixture, peas, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan and pasta to pan. Toss to combine.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Grant’s Blended Scotch Whisky.

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