By June Naylor
Photo by Ralph Lauer
Celebrating a decade of success at Oliva Italian Eatery, Cynthia and Justin Loeb offer a wide-ranging menu at their casual bistro on the Fort Worth-Keller border. The Chicken Balsamic on a bed of pasta is among the most popular items. Justin, the chef, infuses some Mediterranean flavors into this dish, which includes a rich broth-based sauce spiked with sun-dried tomatoes and meaty portobello mushrooms, plus the sweet and tart combination of honey and balsamic vinegar. Front of house, you’ll always find Cynthia — whose resume includes work in New York for Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Martha Stewart — giving guests the sort of personalized service that ensures the devotion of Oliva’s clientele.
• ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
• 2 pounds chicken breast
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• All-purpose flour for dredging chicken, plus 5 tablespoons for roux
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 3 cups beef broth
• 2 tablespoons kosher salt
• 1 pound spaghetti
• 2 medium portobello mushrooms, stemmed and diced
• 1 tablespoon finely diced shallots
• ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
• ¼ cup honey
• ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
• Black pepper, to taste
In medium skillet, heat ¼ cup of olive oil over medium-high heat. Slice each chicken breast lengthwise into 3 pieces, about 4 ounces each. Season with salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Place in pan — do not overcrowd — and cook about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.
Make a roux in saucepan over medium heat, whisking butter and 5 tablespoons of flour till incorporated. Slowly stir in broth; remove from heat.
Bring 5 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons kosher salt to rolling boil. Add spaghetti and stir to keep it from sticking. Cook until al dente. Remove from heat and drain.
While pasta cooks, heat remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots; saute until tender. Add balsamic vinegar, honey, sun-dried tomatoes and black pepper to taste. Add chicken and roux. Lower heat and simmer until thickened. Serve over a bed of spaghetti.