Friday, January 14, 2011
Pasta Dinner for four....or more
About a year ago I found a great baked pasta recipe. After dozens of times making it, I dare say I've perfected it. We had it for dinner the other night - and shared the batch with my sister's family. If you ever need to fix dinner for someone else, but need dinner for yourself as well, this recipe is for you. Or, if you just want to be a tad bit lazy - cook the recipe and eat one for dinner and freeze the other. A second nights dinner for next week is already in the freezer.
Warning: From start to finish, before baking, it takes about an hour. A labor of love I tell you.
Here are your instructions:
1- Boil 1 lb. of penne pasta. Leave it al dente so cook it a few minutes less than the instructions say.
2 - While your pasta is boiling, cook some bacon in a big skillet. 4-6 slices will do, depending on how much bacon you like. Before cooking it, cut it into small pieces. This will speed up the process and then you don't have to cut cooked bacon.
3 - Remove the bacon from the grease and cook 10-12 chicken tenders or 4 chicken breasts about 90% in your bacon grease. (I never said that this recipe was perfectly healthy now did I?) You don't want your chicken pink anymore, but don't cook it all the way or they'll dry up in the oven.
3 - While your bacon and chicken are cooking, cut up some sun dried tomatoes. I use about 12 but that's because I like them.
4 - Once the bacon and chicken are cooked set the bacon aside with the tomatoes and slice the chicken into small chunks. Set it aside as well.
5 - Now, in a really big, tall pan your going to make the sauce. You start by making a rue (a fancy French sauce base). For your rue, you'll need (gulp) 6 tablespoons of butter. Melt the butter in your pan. Once the butter is melted add 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons of flour and 2-3 teaspoons of minced garlic. Mix all this together with a whisk.
6 - Once your rue looks like a paste, start adding milk. You will add a total of 6 cups of milk (whole, 2% or 1%. NOT SKIM!), one cup at a time. You'll need to constantly whisk this so that the rue paste breaks up in the milk.
7 - After adding all the milk, continue whisking until your sauce comes to a simmer. Once it's simmering add your bacon and sun dried tomatoes. Cook for one minute, stirring with a wooden spoon.
8 - Next, turn off the heat and add the cheese. 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan and provolone. Stir until the cheese melts.
9 - The final step is to add the chicken pieces and the pasta (remember I told you that you needed a really big tall pot?) and stir until all the pasta is coated with the sauce AND the tomatoes and bacon appear to be evenly distributed. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese
Pour the pasta mixture into to baking dishes, each smaller and deeper than a traditional 9x13 cake pan. Dare I say a good casserole dish?
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until golden brown.
If you are cooking from the freezer, bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes.
Serve with brushetta and crusty bread. Which by the way, is great for a leftover lunch the next day. Especially when you ate all your pasta at dinner the night before.