Chicken Breast with Spaghetti Squash Carbonara & Chardonnay

This recipe might sound like it takes a lot of extra work, but it’s actually much easier to make than it sounds. And the brining makes a fabulous difference, so be sure to plan ahead.

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breast with Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Recipe reprinted and (modified a touch) from down home: downtown which features recipes from Zin Restaurant and Wine Bar and Syrah Bistro, with permission. This recipe was created by Josh Silvers of Syrah Bistro.

Brined Chicken Breasts

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 spaghetti squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)


Carbonara Sauce

  • 3 slices apple wood-smoked bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


For the brined chicken breasts:

  • In a saucepan, combine the garlic, thyme, peppercorn, salt, sugar and water.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat and let cool, then add several ice cubes until thoroughly chilled.
  • Put the chicken in a bowl and pour the brine over it.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours.

For the spaghetti squash:

  • EITHER preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Lightly oil a rimmed baking heet and place the squash halvs on it, cut side down. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes.
  • OR follow these directions to prepare the spaghetti squash in the crockpot.
  • OR follow these directions to prepare spaghetti squash in the microwave
  • Then, let squash stand and cool enough to handle. With a spoon or fork, scoop out the squash into long strands.
  • Set aside, or cover and refrigerate for up to one day before using.

When you are ready to prepare the chicken:

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Drain the chicken breasts, pat dry, and let come to room temperature.
  • In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the breasts, and cook until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Turn the chicken over, transfer the pan to the oven and roast until opaque throughout, about 16- 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the spaghetti squash carbonara:

  • In a large skillet, saute the bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
  • Add the cream and garlic to the pan with the bacon fat and cook stirring, until cream is reduced by half, about six minutes.
  • Add the spaghetti squash and stir until coated and heated through.
  • Add the spinach to the pan and stir until wilted, 1 minute.
  • Reduce heat to low and stir in the Parmesan, egg yolk, reserved bacon, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in the parsley.
Serve with Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay, or, better yet, enjoy a glass while you are cooking and the rest with dinner. The Chardonnay and flavors in the chicken and spaghetti squash carbonara play off of each other very well to make a perfect pairing for this date night dinner.
Hopefully, you’ll be as surprised as I was as to how flavorful the chicken will be. Brining it allows it to soak in more moisture, as well as the flavors from the brine. And the spaghetti squash carbonara? It was like dessert it was so delicious!
I might be listing this as a date night dinner, but I have to tell you that our kids, ages 6, 9 and 11 years did, really enjoyed it, as well. This meal could be perfect for the whole family… but don’t feel guilty if you want to set the kids at the kiddie table (or, gasp!, even in front of  a movie)  for this one and break out the candles for a great date dinner at home.


Rodney Strong Vineyards provided me with a copy of down home: downtown as well as a bottle of Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay in hopes that I would try this recipe with their wine. The review and photos are my own.

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