Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Bacon Bake
Sometimes you just need a little comfort food . . . right? Rainy, dreary days (ah springtime in Oregon) can stir up the desire for something warm and oven-baked. I know I'm often in the mood for those great one-dish meals, packed with veggies . . . no side salad necessary. And I'm going to go back to one of my favorite food truisms: EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH BACON.
- 1 lb. chicken breast meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3 slices bacon, diced
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 lb. broccoli florets
- 1 qt. whole milk
- 1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 handful Italian parsley, chopped
- 7-8 oz. mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1/4 c. dried breadcrumbs
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 lb. penne pasta
Butter a 9x13" baking dish and set aside.
Place diced bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook about 5-6 minutes until bacon just begins to crisp. Remove from Dutch oven and drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Place chicken breast pieces in Dutch oven with rendered bacon fat, season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from Dutch oven and set aside. Add onion to Dutch oven and cook in remaining fat (if pan has become dry, add a little olive oil), stir often, and season with salt and pepper. Add Italian parsley and stir to combine. Melt butter in Dutch oven with onions and parsley. Add flour and whisk to combine. Whisk constantly for 1 minute to create a thick paste. Slowly add milk by 1/4 cupfuls, whisking to combine. Let milk warm over heat, then add cheddar and mascarpone cheeses and stir thoroughly to combine.
Meanwhile, blanch broccoli in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside. In the same pot, heat water and cook penne pasta to al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain.
Remove cheese sauce from heat, add cooked chicken, broccoli, pasta, and bacon. Stir to combine thoroughly. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and top evenly with breadcrumbs. Refrigerate to heat and eat later or cook for 35-45 minutes in a preheated 375˚ oven. Cook until the pasta is heated through and the top begins to brown.