Chicken and Artichoke Penne

Chicken and Artichoke Penne with a White Sauce
Today, with help from my sister, I made chicken and artichoke penne with a white (bechamel) sauce.

Bechemel Sauce
I used a little less than 5 tablespoons butter.
4 tablespoons (=1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
I only put a pinch or two of salt - definitely less than the recipe called for.
I added some taps of nutmeg - possibly less than the recipe called for.

Bechamel Sauce (1 of 4)
"In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes."
"Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use."
Bechamel Sauce (2 of 4)
The only part I overlooked was "Bring to a boil." As such, I cooked the mixture for about another five minutes. I transferred the finished mixture from a pan to a pot, so that I could cover the bechamel with a lid.

Chicken and Artichoke Penne with a White Sauce
I cut up three servings of chicken and used a jar of artichoke hearts that was just under eight ounces. I picked the artichokes out with chopsticks.

The mushrooms I bought were already clean and sliced. I estimated how many slices would make up the eight mushrooms called for by the recipe; I figured there were three slices per mushroom. I later learned, however, the quantity of mushroom is a matter of preference. My dad felt that mushrooms contributed heavily to the flavor of the dish.

Next I opened the can of black olives, leaving the lid on top so I could drain it. I used about half of it - approximately three ounces of black olives.

Then I made about half a box of penne and some bechamel sauce from the recipe I found on
"Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water. Drain."
"Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Saute chicken pieces until chicken is light-to-golden brown in color."

"Add artichoke hearts, olives ,and mushrooms to pan; heat for about 90 seconds. Turn heat to low, add cooked pasta to pan, and heat until warm."
At this point, I realized the pan I was using was too small and so I got out a wok and added the artichoke oil into the pan. Then I moved the contents of the small pan over to the wok and added the pasta.
"Add warm bechamel sauce to pan, and toss ingredients 3 to 4 times. Serve with freshly grated black pepper and fresh Parmesan cheese to taste. Sprinkle dash of paprika over food for color, if desired."

Except for adding warm bechamel sauce to pan, I totally missed these last instructions.

- I probably let the chicken cook too long.
- I didn't realize the paprika was just for color. Interesting.

First Impressions:
All of the ingredients mostly retained their own flavor. The chicken came out neither dry nor juicy, and had a slight amount of flavor on its own. My favorite sensation was biting into the artichoke hearts. Finally, the sauce ended up better than I expected, especially for undershooting the amount of butter by a little.

Bechamel Sauce (3 of 4)
It's possible that I needed to cook everything together longer, which would have required cooking the chicken on its own for shorter.

A Second Opinion:
My sister took some of the batch, cut up the artichoke smaller, added pepper, and cooked it a little more in a newly oiled pan - to see if the dish would taste better. She also likes a bit of a more burnt/extra cooked taste. She thinks, after her changes, that the dish tasted better.

Fixing the Dish:
After eating one or two servings of the pasta, I decided to fix what remained. It was good the way it was, but there were so many ways to add flavor to the dish.

Bechamel Sauce Ingredients
First, I added some of the oil from the jar of artichoke hearts. Second, I added some more mushrooms, on account of my dad's insight regarding the flavor they contributed. Next I added black pepper, garlic, and salt.

I was also looking for some cheese, but unfortunately I didn't find any when fixing it.

[20100603][20161015 Edit]

Relevant Links:
Chicken and Artichoke Penne with a White Sauce recipe (
Bechamel Sauce recipe (*

Bechamel Sauce (4 of 4)
*I later realized I could have gotten a Bechamel Sauce recipe from**
**The recipe on has the following ingredients for 2 cups of bechamel (the recipe was for 3 cups of bechamel):
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 pinch dried thyme
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper

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