Monday, January 13, 2014

Skillet Cheesy Chicken Pasta with Broccoli and Bacon

I've had a few signs lately that I'm getting older. There are the gray hairs that are starting to appear on the top of my head, which I promptly pluck out, old wives' tales about seven more growing in each one's place be damned. There's the fact that I went out for a friend's surprise birthday party over the weekend and we ate dinner at 9:00, which was the latest I have had dinner for, literally, years. And then there's the fact that few things these days get me as excited as the prospect of a one-pot dinner. Because one pot = so many less dishes to do. I'm beginning to find doing the dishes very tiresome in my old age.

So yeah, I love a one-pot dinner, especially if it involves pasta like this one does. This one-pot dinner also involves broccoli, bacon, and tons of cheese. It's flavorful and creamy, with a great balance of textures, and although there are lots of steps, it's really easy to prepare. And then, after dinner has been enjoyed, there's only one pot to clean. Which means I have more time to do the things that people my age really like to do, like plopping myself on the couch to watch my stories and going to bed early. ;)

Skillet Cheesy Chicken Pasta with Broccoli and Bacon
adapted from Center Cut Cook

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 strips bacon, chopped
2 chicken breasts, chopped into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces short pasta
1 2/3 cup chicken stock
2 3/4 cup water, divided
8 ounces broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels.

2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste and add to the pot. Cook until browned; remove from the pot and set aside.

3. Add the onion to the pot (add more oil if needed). Cook until onions are translucent, then add the garlic and cook and stir for 30 seconds. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.

4. Add the chicken stock to the pot, along with 2 cups of the water. Add the pasta and bring to a boil. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed by the pasta.

5. Add the broccoli and the remaining 3/4 cup of water to the pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.

6. Add the chicken, half of the reserved bacon, the evaporated milk, and the cheddar cheese. Increase the heat to medium high and stir until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. 

7. Add 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and more as needed to taste. The sauce will continue to thicken as it stands. Sprinkle each serving with the remaining bacon.

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