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these Chicken Stuffed Shells posted by Pat are also a great do ahead.

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Joined: Dec 19, 2005


Posted to Thread #11520 at 6:13 pm on Jul 29, 2008

Chicken Stuffed Shells with Tomato Cream Sauce

1 lb pasta shells for stuffing
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray

For filling:
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped (or 1 tbsp jar chopped garlic)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups fresh, chopped spinach
One lb ricotta
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley (or 2 tbsp dry)
3 tbsp basil, julienned (or 1 tsp dry)

For sauce: (can be made 2 days ahead)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped (or 2 tbsp jar chopped garlic)
2 carrots, finely chopped
Two 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes (or about 2 lb ripe tomatoes)
One 28-oz can tomato puree
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (or 2 tbsp dried)
3 tbsp fresh basil, julienne (or 2 tsp dry) , (slivered dried tomatoes)
3/4 cup heavy cream (can substitute half-and-half, or evaporated skim milk)

Cook shells according to package directions. Take 6 minutes off of cooking time. Drain well, cool under cold running water, and toss with a minimal amount of olive oil (or cooking spray) to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Cut into small pieces. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

In same skillet, cook garlic, onion, carrot, celery and red pepper flakes.(add sliced mushrooms instead of spinach for a change) Cook 5 minutes. Add spinach, and cook 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine chicken and spinach mixture. Puree in a food processor or blender. (If you have a small machine, do this in batches.)

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, egg, Romano(and mozz), parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Add chicken puree and combine very well. Chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare sauce. In a large stockpot, heat 3 tbsp olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and carrot, and sauté until onion begins to brown. . Add wine and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and puree. Stir well. Reduce heat to low and let simmer 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add parsley and basil to sauce, and cook 15 minutes more. Working in batches, puree sauce in blender; return to same pot. (If you have a hand blender, you can use it right in the pot). Add cream and simmer 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large baking pan well with cooking spray. Place a thin layer of sauce in bottom of baking pan. Stuff shells with chicken mixture. (I find a pastry bag with no tip is ideal for this. If you don't have one, try a demitasse spoon.) Mixture should come to top of shells. Place shells in baking pan in a single layer. When all shells are filled, cover with sauce. Top with grated provolone, and parsley. Bake for 20 minutes. Cheese should be golden and sauce should be bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

The entire dish can be made ahead of time and frozen (either baked or unbaked). Cover top with plastic wrap then aluminum foil. If unbaked: remove plastic wrap, and re-wrap with foil. Place in a low oven (250 degrees F.) and bake until a knife is easily inserted. Then raise heat to 350 degrees F. and bake as above. If baked: remove plastic wrap and rewrap with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F. until hot.

Pat’s note: Original recipe said it serves 6...I found it serves a lot more than that.

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain

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