Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Baked Chicken Fettuccine

Okay, let's talk about this recipe. 

It is fabulous. 

Creamy, rich, cheesy...it's hard to improve on a pasta dish like this.

It is a version of a recipe from my friend Bethany.  We've been friends since college. 

We ran a mini-marathon together a few years ago.  We're going to run another one this year.

I run so that I can eat things like this Baked Chicken Fettuccine.

This dish is worth the pain of running.

I ran 5 miles yesterday because I had this for dinner last night.  I ran another 5 miles this morning because I had this for dinner last night.

It was so worth it.

There are a few steps to putting this dish together.  But they're easy steps.  And the recipe makes 8-10 servings, so it's well worth the effort. 

We have to cook the chicken, saute the mushrooms, cook the pasta, and then toss all of that together with lots of cheese and - the reason for all of the running - half-and-half.  Oh, my.

Put a large pot of water on to boil.  When it boils, add a lot of salt - a couple of tablespoons - and the fettuccine.  Cook it according to package directions.

Also put a smaller pot of water on to boil.  When it boils, add the chicken breasts.  These should take about the same amount of time as the pasta.  But just cook the chicken until it's cooked all the way through.  But don't cook it so long that it's tough.
Now heat a half of a stick of butter in a large skillet.  Take some mushrooms, wipe them with a damp paper towel, and slice them up.

Toss them into the butter and saute them on medium-high for about 8 minutes or so.  When they look like this,

turn off the heat and stir in a block of cream cheese.  Stir it all around until it gets melty and creamy and combines with the mushrooms.

Add in the salt and garlic powder and stir it again.

Now our chicken should be done.  Drain it and have your husband cut it into little pieces.

Once the fettuccine is done, drain it in a colander and return it to the pot.  Dump in the mushroom/cream cheese mixture.  Add the cut-up chicken.  Also dump in a can of cream of mushroom soup.
Now it's time to cheese it.  And half-and-half it.

We are going to use a half cup of shredded parmesan cheese.  And a whole cup of shredded Swiss cheese.  The Swiss cheese adds a wonderful flavor.  I love Swiss cheese.  It is probably my favorite kind of cheese, next to its sister, Gruyere, which is so special (read: insanely expensive) that I only have it once a year - when I get it in my Christmas stocking.  And then I am so excited to have Gruyere, I treat it like royalty.  I have a hard time deciding even how to use it because I know it will be gone once I use it.

I know: I need to get a bigger problem, right?
Enough about Gruyere, which this recipe doesn't even call for.  We also need an 8-oz package of shredded Italian cheese blend.  I like using this because it has all kinds of cheeses - hence the name blend - like mozzarella, provolone, romano, and a few other types I can't remember right now.  It is very melty and stringy and I love melty, stringy cheese.  I love melty cheese.  I love stringy cheese.  I. Love. Cheese.

Throw the cheeses in and pour in the half-and-half.  Two cups.  Don't give me grief about it.  Just do it.  And then go run 5 miles.

Stir it up.  Eat a few forkfuls of it before you pour it into the casserole dish. 

Okay, there are a couple of options here.  If you're feeding a small army, i.e., 8 people or so, then put it all in a 9x13 casserole dish. 

The other options, which is the route I took, is to divide it in half and use two 8x8 dishes.  One I put in the refrigerator for dinner on Monday night (I made it on Sunday) and other one I put in the freezer for a night I don't feel like cooking.  I let the refrigerated one sit on the counter for about an hour to knock the chill off before I put it in my hot oven.  I didn't really feel like picking up shards of my Pyrex dish because I put a cold dish into a hot oven.  I'm boring that way.

Once you're ready to bake it, cook it on 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until it's hot and bubbly but not too brown.  It will be cheesy and creamy, full of chicken and pasta and mushrooms and have a subtle garlic flavor. 

It's ah-mazing.

Thank you, Bethany, for this recipe.  It is a winner.  Everyone I have ever taken it to or made it for has asked for the recipe. 

So here it is.

Now go run 5 miles.

Baked Chicken Fettuccine
8 oz. cavatappi pasta (or any short-cut pasta such as penne or gemelli), cooked according to package directions and drained
12 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 T (1/2 stick) butter
8 oz block cream cheese
1 10 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups half-and-half (or whole milk)
4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (will yield about 4 cups)
1 cup (4 oz.) grated Swiss cheese
8 oz. package shredded Italian cheese blend
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions and return it to the pot.

Heat the butter in a large skillet and add the mushrooms.  Saute for about 8 minutes until tender and starting to brown.  Turn off the heat and stir in the cream cheese.  Stir it in until it is creamy and soft and combined with the mushrooms.

Pour the mushroom/cream cheese mixture into the pasta pot and add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir well.

Pour the mixture into either a greased 9x13 dish or two 8x8 dishes.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until hot and bubbly.

This freezes well uncooked.  When you're ready to bake it, thaw it completely first and then bake as directed.


Kacey said...

I will definitely be making this! I was getting hungry reading the recipe. Yum! And I think I'll use it when I take dinner to my friend who just had a baby...which I really needed some new ideas for, as the things I usually take people are getting really boring.:)

Elizabeth said...

Oh good! I know, it's always nice to have a new idea for dinner to take to someone!

Kelley said...

HA! I thought the exact same thing when I read this... then I went to comment and saw that you beat me to it, Kacey... great minds think alike.

Elizabeth said...

Kacey and Kelley, you all make me laugh! I hope my girls are like you all when they're older!