19 March 2015

It's Improv time again!

The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.   

This month's ingredients were chicken and noodles.  We've had a couple of warm days here in Wisconsin, but we're back to normal for this time of year and I am still in comfort food mode.  Chicken and noodles definitely feel like comfort food to me.  As I was looking through my huge backlog of food photos that I have taken, I came across a chicken and pasta recipe that I absolutely love and have made several times, but for some reason, I had never gotten around to blogging about. I am not a huge pasta person; I prefer potatoes over pasta any day.  But this is hands-down my favorite pasta recipe ever.  It is so good.  My version is adapted from Kevin and Amanda.  You cook chicken in a super flavorful mesquite marinade (I love that stuff), then shred it and toss it with your favorite short cut pasta and bacon (of course!), and hold it all together with a homemade creamy parmesan sauce.  So good!  

Smoky Garlic Chicken Bacon Pasta

3 chicken breast cutlets
½ bottle Lawry’s Mesquite Marinade
10 oz. short cut pasta
4 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 tbsp flour
1½ cups milk (I used whole)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
¾ lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled

Place chicken in slow cooker.  Pour mesquite marinade over chicken. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours, flipping chicken once if you are able, or until chicken is fork tender.  Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred with two forks.  (You should have about 2 cups.)  Set chicken aside and don’t throw out that cooking liquid yet.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until tender.  Drain. 

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Add the garlic and cook over medium-low heat for a minute or so until fragrant.  Add the flour and stir well.  Cook for a couple of minutes.  Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a boil.  Cook until the sauce gets quite thick, then turn heat down to low and stir in the parmesan cheese.

In a large bowl, combine the bacon, chicken, drained pasta, and sauce.  Toss to evenly distribute ingredients.  Add a bit of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency.  Grate a little more Parmesan over the top for garnish, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

*A note about chicken cutlets: I buy my chicken breasts from Sam's and they are humongous.  I cut them in half to create two "cutlets" from each huge breast.  They cook more quickly and you end up with more surface area for your delicious seasonings.  If your chicken breasts are small, use two of them.

I am telling you, this stuff is the bomb.  I love making the cheese sauce a little too thick because adding the mesquite cooking liquid to it gives it that much more smoky flavor.  So good!

You can use any kind of short cut pasta you like.  I can't remember what this one in the pic is called.  It wasn't really my favorite for this dish, but it worked.  I have also made it with penne and farfalle.  Shells would work too.

Like I said, I'm not a huge pasta person, but I could eat this stuff every day!  This is one of those recipes were the picture doesn't do it justice.  You really have to try it out for yourself.

Be sure to check out all the other great chicken and noodle recipes below and come back next month to see what I make with asparagus and egg.  How springy!

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  1. ashley@cheesecurdinparadiseMarch 19, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    Sounds delicious and comforting! I love chicken and noodle dishes.

  2. ACK! Spaghetti Carbonata is the family's ultimate favorite pasta dish of all time & you just kicked it up two notches!

  3. This looks delicious!