Happy 2013, everyone! I hope you all had a blast ringing in the New Year and that you're all as ready as I am to make this year awesome. I have big plans for 2013, and I'm determined to make it great: make great food, have a great attitude, and just have a great time with my family and friends.
Speaking of great food, I'm kicking off 2013 with a really delicious recipe. Sure, it contains both bacon and heavy cream, so maybe it's not the most New-Year's-diet-friendly dish, but it sure is yummy. The flavors of bacon, gouda cheese, and spinach always work so beautifully together, and this meal is no exception. The pasta is so creamy and rich, and topping it with a chicken breast that's wrapped in salty, smoky bacon is the perfect finishing touch. Mushrooms would also be a wonderful addition!
Bacon-Wrapped Chicken with Gouda Spinach Penne
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, uniform thickness
4 strips bacon
1 pound penne pasta
4 cups baby spinach leaves, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups gouda or smoked gouda cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Wrap each chicken breast with one slice of bacon. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken breasts, with the bacon's seam-side down, and cook until the bacon is crispy and the chicken is cooked through, turning once. Set aside and cover with foil.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. For the last four minutes of the pasta's cooking time, add the spinach to the boiling water, 1 cup at a time so as not to crowd the pot, and stir to wilt it completely. Drain pasta and spinach.
3. While the pasta and spinach are cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add the heavy cream; bring it to a boil and let it boil for 30 seconds until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and add the gouda cheese a bit at a time, stirring to melt the cheese before adding more. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add the sauce to the reserved pasta and spinach and stir to combine. Top each serving with a piece of the bacon-wrapped chicken.