You could omit the chicken in this recipe and happily keep it vegetarian; the chicken is really just for texture, in my mind. If you do that, of course, just shave 20 minutes off the time it takes to cook this and start adding the remaining ingredients to the sauce once the mushrooms are cooked and the kale is wilted a little.
Is it French? Is it Italian? Some of my favorite comfort recipes are in that nebulous, Southern French-Northern Italian category. This was inspired by a dish I had in Martigny, Switzerland long, long ago.
Chicken and Mushrooms in Mustard-Cream Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small chicken breasts
½ yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz. mixed mushrooms, dehydrated if necessary and sliced
2 cups chopped kale, tightly packed
1 cup water
½ cup white wine or light beer
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
½ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons capers
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups penne pasta
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté, allowing to brown on both sides. Remove to a plate and reserve.
Bring a well-salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente according package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary and lower to medium heat. Cook the onions until translucent, stirring often. Add the garlic, stir to incorporate, and then lay in the chicken breasts. Layer the kale on top, and add the wine or beer, lemon juice, and water to the skillet. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and remove the chicken breasts. Allow to rest while you mix the mustard, yogurt, tarragon, and capers in a small bowl. Add the mixture to the skillet and stir to incorporate into a creamy sauce.
Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and return to the skillet. Add the cooked pasta and pasta water, a little bit at a time, if the sauce I too thick. Season with salt and pepper and serve, maybe with a little grated Parmesan cheese on the side.
I served this with some fresh tomatoes from the garden, with a little extra tarragon sprinkled on top along with some kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil: