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Penne pasta with smoked chicken, fresh asparagus & shiitake mushrooms

3 Tb. olive oil
3 Tb. butter
1 onion, peeled and diced
1/3 cup thinly sliced celery
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
1/2 cup Merlot
2 cups smoked chicken stock (see below)
1 1/2 cups smoked chicken*, skinned and deboned, in ½-inch cubes
1 cup blanched asparagus, cut in 1-inch lengths
1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tb. chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. hot, cooked penne pasta
1 cup seasoned toasted bread crumbs or grated parmesan cheese

In a large sauté pan over high heat melt the butter and the olive oil together; add the onion and the celery and sauté for one minute. Add the shiitake mushrooms and continue to sauté until all vegetables are soft. Add the wine to the pan and cook until it is mostly reduced. Now add the stock and simmer until it has almost completely reduced. Turn heat to low and add the chicken cubes, the asparagus, the peppers and the herbs. Add salt and pepper, if necessary. Toss the chicken mixture together with the hot cooked pasta in a large warmed serving bowl. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs or the cheese (or both!). Serve hot. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Smoked Chicken Stock:
bones from one smoked chicken*
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup celery stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped (include skins, they add great color)
2 qt. water

Add all above ingredients to a medium stockpot. Simmer 4 to 6 hours; strain and chill stock. Spoon away any congealed fat and reserve 2 cups stock for pasta recipe. Freeze remaining stock for up to 4 months. This is great stock for other soups and sauces!

*Smoked chickens may not be available everywhere, so smoked turkey would be a great substitute.

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