Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Pasta with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

This dish is inspired by Martha Stewart's Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes.  I made quite a few changes to suit what I had in the house.  When I planned this dish I knew I was going to adapt it by using macaroni noodles and tomatoes instead of penne and sun dried tomatoes.  Since I got such a great deal on shredded mozzarella I decided to use that instead of provolone cheese. 

It was fairly easy to make.  The hardest part is whisking while the milk sauce thickens.  That is just one thing I really could skip, but I know it would come out clumpy and watery if I don't.  Trust me and whisk, whisk, whisk so you get a nice smooth, creamy texture!  I learned this the hard way a loooooong time ago ;)

Look at all that ooey gooey goodness!

Cheesy Chicken Pasta with Tomatoes and Mushrooms
6 TBS Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lb Pasta (I used Macaroni)
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (halved horizontally so they are thin)
1/2 Cup + 2 TBS Flour
2 TBS Minced Garlic or about 4 cloves
6 Cups Milk (I used whole)
1 10-oz Package of Mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
2 14-oz Cans of Diced Tomatoes, drained
1 Package of Mozzarella Cheese (about 2 cups)
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Prepare noodles as directed on package except cook 3 minutes short of al dente, drain pasta
  3. Heat oil in a  large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes per side or until done.  Remove chicken, dice, and set aside
  4. In a large heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and flour, whisk, and cook for about 1 minute
  5. Slowly add milk to pot whisking constantly.  Bring to a simmer, continue whisking, and cook until thickened about 1 minute
  6. Add mushrooms and tomatoes and cook for another minute or two
  7. Remove pot from heat and stir in mozzarella cheese
  8. Add chicken and pasta, mix well
  9. Transfer to a large 9x13 glass baking dish and top with parmesan cheese
  10. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly
  11. Let rest for 5 minutes to thicken and serve!
Oh my gosh!  This smells FABULOUS while it is baking.  It fills the house with a wonderful garlicky, cheesy goodness.  Letting it rest is difficult.  My mouth was watering before it even came out of the oven!

Everyone seemed to enjoy this.  I will add a little salt to the mixture if I use mozzarella again, but it was good without it.  If you use provolone it has a stronger flavor than mozzarella does so you wouldn't need any extra "flavor bump".  This made a TON so we will be having leftovers for sure.  I also suggest setting the pan on a baking sheet because this bubbled over a bit and it saves on cleaning up.  I also have the bottom of my oven lined with heavy duty Reynold's wrap to save on oven clean up.  I really hate cleaning the oven so that is my little tip of the night ;)

Simple, good, and comforting.  We will definitely have this again.  I want to try it with provolone because I am sure that would make it even better.  YUM!

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