Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne

Source: Real Mom Kitchen 

Sometimes you want to eat a home-cooked meal, but you don’t want to go through the trouble of actually cooking and then the dreaded clean up at the end.  Sometimes you want to eat a home-cooked meal, and you do feel like cooking that day and you don’t mind the cleaning afterwards.  That’s when it dawned on me, when I am in the mood to cook, might as well cook 2 meals to “cover” me on the days I don’t feel like cooking!  That way, we can eat a home-cooked meal on the spot!  This recipe is PERFECT for this type of situation because it makes 2 batches (1 for now and 1 for later) and it freezes well.

6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate 

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each), halved horizontally 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
6 garlic cloves, finely minced (I just get out my micro-plane and grate the garlic…watch the tip of your fingers!)
6 cups whole milk
10 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced 1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces) 

1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 6 ounces)

My changes:
-Instead of using white or cremini mushrooms, I just buy which ever mushrooms look good that day.  Usually baby bello’s!
-Instead of provolone (I don’t understand provolone!  That is a whole separate post in itself!), I use gruyere or swiss.  Next time, I would like to try a nice gouda cheese.
-1 table spoon of italian seasoning or whatever dry herbs you like to the sauce and a sprinkle on top of the dish
-If I am not using dry herbs, I use fresh parsley
-Instead of cooking the chicken, and THEN cutting or shredding.  I either cube the raw chicken, season, and cook it because this reduces the cooking time OR I just buy a rotisserie chicken to shred or cube.

Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. If you’re going to freeze one, use a disposable foil pan.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta and set aside.
While pasta is boiling, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.  While chicken pan is still hot, toss the mushrooms in and saute until golden brown (3-4 minutes).  Use a little extra olive oil if needed.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot , melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking constantly, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer.  Keep whisking frequently as sauce thickens, about 1 minute more. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and and gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes.  If freezing, place remaining parmesan cheese in a zip-top baggie.  If cooking, sprinkle on top.
Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Freezer instructions:
To freeze, prepare through step 4 and then let pasta cool.  Cover pan well with plastic wrap.  Place extra cheese in baggie on top and then cover entire pan well with foil.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  To bake, preheat oven to 400.  Remove foil and plastic from pan and set cheese baggie aside.  Place foil back on pan and bake for about 1 1/2 hours.  Remove foil, stir pasta, and top with cheese.  Return pan to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly throughout.

One thought on “Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s