Saturday, June 10, 2023

What’s for dinner?Barbecue chicken and penne pasta

Bailey Woodean
Bailey Woodean
I have been a freelance writer for more than 4 years, a mom for more than 2 years, and a wife for just under a year. I am currently a student in a cooking and catering program with the intention of expanding my knowledge of the culinary business. I then plan to take this knowledge to properly write about and critique restaurants and food. Writing to you from Niagara Falls, NY, thanks for joining me on the ride!
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So, sometimes when I am making dinner I decide to just ”wing it” and hope that something delicious happens. And, sometimes I find delicious recipes that I just have to try! This dinner was a direct result of finding delicious recipes!

El Pollo Loco Chicken (Copycat)

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 jalapeno seeded and minced very finely
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 8 chicken thighs bone-in and skin on
  1. Mix up all the ingredients except for the chicken into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk well then reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade in a small Tupperware.
  3. Add the chicken to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. Marinade overnight.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  6. In a cast-iron grill pan add the chicken skin side up.
  7. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
  8. Using potholders, add the pan to the stovetop on medium-high heat.
  9. Spray some foil with canola oil spray and put the sprayed side down over the top of the chicken.
  10. Press onto the meat with either a bacon press, a foil-wrapped brick or a second heavy pan (I used my normal cast iron skillet on top of the chicken.
  11. Spoon half the reserved marinade over the chicken while it cooks.
  12. Cook for another 3 minutes then remove the bacon press/brick, flip chicken (add some more marinade) and cook a final three minutes before serving.

Now, when I made this recipe I used boneless chicken breasts because I almost never have bone-in meats on hand. I’m not sure if that made a difference in how the recipe came out, but I can say that the El Pollo Loco (copycat) recipe listed above is very flavorful and my chicken tasted great!

Penne with Spinach, Parmesan and Seasoned Breadcrumbs

  • 1 pound dry penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, cleaned and sliced very thin
  • 1 package frozen spinach, defrosted and drained of excess water
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large pot of lightly salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over low heat and cook garlic until golden, about 2 minutes. Add spinach, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes while stirring. Add red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add pasta to the pan, along with a few spoonfuls of pasta water, and drizzle with olive oil. Simmer over low to medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes while stirring. Finally, add breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese; toss all

This recipe was probably my favorite part of this dinner. Why? Because the recipe was easy, used basic ingredients found on hand, and it was really delicious! I should add that when I made this recipe I used frozen spinach which tasted great but, I would have preferred the freshness of fresh spinach. I also added a squirt or two of lemon juice, whole garlic cloves, and I also added 3 to 4 tablespoons of plant-based butter for extra flavor and it seemed as though the recipe could benefit from a little more depth of flavor.

Barbecue chicken and penne pasta

While I may not take the time to make the El Pollo Loco (copycat) recipe on a regular basis, I did find the flavors were great! The Penne with spinach, parmesan, and seasoned bread crumbs was so easy and delicious that I may make it on a no-weekly basis with varying meat sidekicks!

Barbecue chicken and penne pasta

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