Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I've got another freezer meal for you today!  This one was a huge hit for my family!  I really liked the sun dried tomatoes that were in it.  I'm usually not a huge fan of them, but if gave the dish a nice sweet flavor in the midst of the saltiness of the cheese.  A great combo.

A word to the wise:  When you are making your sauce, don't turn up the burner too high!  Be patient, it will thicken and simmer, I promise. (it's not going to get super thick.  It will be about the difference between regular milk at the start and heavy cream at the end) If you are making a huge batch, it will take longer.  I didn't do my job at our freezer meal class and it got burned.  Not so yummy! So whatever you do... leave it on medium heat and stir, stir, stir!  Make sure that when you are stirring, you are getting the bottom of the pan.  If you leave it on medium and you are constantly stirring well, you shouldn't have any problems.

The one in the picture is topped with mozzarella cheese.  I've made it that way and with no cheese on top.  Both are great. It just depends on how cheesy you feel like getting!

Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne

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
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
6 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone* (6 ounces) you could also make that 1/2 mozzarella
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan 

1 Cup mozzarella cheese (topping)  (optional)

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.  

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot (I just use the pot I cooked my pasta in), 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 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.  (top with remaining mozzarella cheese if desired)

Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Freezer instructions:

To freeze, prepare all steps just before baking. Cover pan well with aluminum foil and then plastic wrap.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  To bake, preheat oven to 400.  Remove plastic from pan (leaving foil on) and bake for about 1 1/2 hours.  Remove foil, stir pasta.  Return pan to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly throughout

Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites

1 comment:

Romulo & Lydia said...

Made it last night and it was a hit with hubby!