Terrance Brennan cooks this pasta risotto-style by stirring in rich chicken stock a ladleful at a time. As the pasta releases its starch, the dish becomes delicately milky. Instead of finishing the dish with a knob of butter, he folds in fresh goat cheese, which turns creamy in the gentle heat. Brennan uses a small, tube-shaped pasta called ditalini, but any small cut works.
Slideshow: One-Dish Pasta Recipes
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for poaching
3 plum tomatoes—peeled, quartered and seeded
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound ditalini or other small-cut pasta (1 1/2 cups)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup tightly packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons snipped chives
2 tablespoons finely shredded basil leaves
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil with the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and half of the garlic and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat until the tomatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme and bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a work surface and coarsely chop them; reserve the olive oil for another use.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the pasta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The pasta is done when it is al dente and suspended in a lightly thickened sauce, about 17 minutes total.
Stir the tomatoes into the pasta. Off the heat, add the goat cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chives and basil and serve right away, passing additional Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.
Jason Miller, wine director at Picholine, pairs this recipe with a Cabernet Franc from Chinon in France's Loire Valley. When grown in Chinon, this red grape tends to have herbal, spicy notes that make it an ideal match for goat cheese as well as tomatoes. Another great Chinon to look for is the cherry-inflected Marc Brédif.
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