Friday, October 11, 2013

baked chicken penne pasta

I'm a pasta fanatic. Let me tell you why-
1. It's filling
2. Lots of leftovers
3. Pasta is inexpensive
4. It's sooooo changeable!
For these reasons, and many more, I love to cook pasta for Ed and I, at least once a week. Which is a good, and bad thing all at the same time.
This is essentially a one pot meal, except for the fact that you'll want to transfer the pasta into a baking dish to crisp in the oven. But, the pasta is cooked in a stock pot, the chicken browned in the same pot, and then the cheese sauce in that pot as well! Once the pasta is just under al dente, drain it and set aside.
The chicken needs to be cooked off first so it can be incorporated later fully cooked. This chicken is seasoned with a butcher's rub- kind of like a grill seasoning for steak. It's nice and tangy and peppery.
Kick the chicken to the curb for a minute and it's time to work on the sauce.
Using the same pan you cooked the chicken in, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. This is important! The little brown bits on the bottom of the pot make the sauce so yummy.
In goes the flour- yep! We're making a rue. At this point, also add in some garlic. Whisk, whisk, whisk this together and let it cook (while whisking) for about 3 minutes.
Those little crispy brown bits on the pan help this to brown up, seasons the flour and add some yummy-ness. Okay, now turn down the heat!
In goes the milk. Stir this up, bring it to a simmer and onward!
While this is bubbling away, add in the sun dried tomatoes, and this will keep on working!
Keep simmering... let this thicken... almost there...
5 minutes later, when the sauce is nice and thickened, remove the sauce from the heat. Add in your cheeses, both parmesan and mozzarella. Stir this until completely melted.
In goes the pasta! And that chicken we cooked earlier. Stir this around now.
All that's needed now is salt, pepper and paprika. Stir this up, and pour into a baking dish.
Now, this would be good right on it's own, but we have one more step.
Liberally top that pasta with seasoned panko breadcrumbs and into the preheated oven this goes.
25 minutes later, and this is what you'll get. Crispy and creamy all at the same time. It's super good. I mean, super duper good.
Baked Chicken Penne Pasta
Very slightly altered from The Art of Comfort Baking.
1/2 lb penne pasta, dried
1 Tablespoon olive ol
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 Tablespoon butcher's rub or grill seasoning
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup and 1 Tablespoon flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups milk
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large stock pot, boil pasta in salted water until just under al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside. In the same stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add in cubed chicken and season with butcher's rub. Saute until completely cooked through and remove chicken from heat. Set aside. Lower heat to medium and add in butter. Melt and add in flour and garlic. Whisk as creating rue and continue to whisk for 3 minutes until rue is browned. Lower heat to medium low and pour in milk. Whisk to incorporate the rue into the milk and bring heat back up to medium. Bring milk to a simmer and add in sun dried tomatoes. Simmer on medium for 5 minutes and stir occasionally. After 5 minutes, remove from heat and stir in cheese until completely melted. Stir in pasta and chicken, season with salt, pepper and paprika. Transfer pasta into a greased baking dish and top with seasoned panko. Place into preheated oven. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, until panko is browned and cheese sauce is bubbly. Enjoy!