Murphy's Grill Pasta a la Murphy

Like all the hearty, down-home dishes at Murphy's Grill, Pasta a la Murphy comes big. "The theme here is American cuisine that is substantial," says owner Stephan Frye. "You shouldn't leave Murphy's hungry." His signature pasta dish is a robust mixture of southwestern flavors. Each plate comes with no fewer than five sautéed shrimp and a five-ounce portion of julienned chicken breast, along with sautéed Anaheim chiles, a touch of melting Monterey Jack and a spicy red-pepper cream sauce that, Frye promises, is easy to make at home. Everything sits on top of a generous bed of linguine.

The secret to making Pasta a la Murphy successfully is balancing each of the ingredients, Frye says. To do that, you need to follow the recipe. Even Frye uses one when making the dish for customers. "You don't want to add too much of any one thing," he says.

Pasta a la Murphy has been a best-seller at his restaurant for three years running. "You've got a little kick to the dish, and I think that's why people like it," Frye explains. "It's also got some sweetness to it with the Anaheim chiles."

To accompany the dish, Frye suggests uncorking a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or a light-bodied Pinot Noir. "It's something that's not going to get in the way of the flavors of the food," he says.

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon chicken base
  • 2 tablespoons cooking sherry
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun spice mix (available at some groceries and specialty food stores; Tony Chachere's Seasoning suggested)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • About 2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1 cup water

Chicken-Shrimp Mixture

  • 20 tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
  • 4 (5 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, julienned into thin strips
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium-size fresh Anaheim chiles, seeds removed, chopped (more chiles can be used to make dish spicier)
  • 1 box linguine, cooked
  • Approximately 1 cup grated Monterey jack cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Sauce: Add all the ingredients for the sauce to a medium saucepan and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the cream does not burn. When the sauce starts to boil, lower heat to a simmer then slowly add in the slurry, or mixture, of cornstarch and water, stirring until the sauce reaches the desired thickness; it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (you may not need all the cornstarch mixture). Sauce can be prepared one day ahead.
  2. Chicken-Shrimp Mixture: Lightly season the chicken strips with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat, and add the chicken and shrimp. When they are halfway cooked, place the chopped Anaheim chiles in the pan and finish cooking until chicken and shrimp are done. The entire process should take about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Set oven to broil. Drain and discard the liquid from the sauté pan, leaving in the chicken, shrimp and chiles. Add the sauce to the drained pan and toss with contents briefly over medium heat.
  4. When sauce is reheated, pour the mixture over linguine that has been evenly divided onto four plates. Sprinkle top with some Monterey jack.
  5. Place plates in the oven until cheese melts. Use caution when removing plates from oven, since they will be hot.
  6. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Murphy's Grill, North Boulder, Colorado - by Melissa Castleman for the Boulder (Colorado) Camera