Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bacon, Chicken, and Sun Dried Tomatoes Macaroni and Cheese

I made this decadent and rich macaroni and cheese recipe during the last snow storm.  There is something about being stuck inside all day because of cold weather that makes me want to eat comfort food.  I nibbled on this gooey goodness and chocolate for two days.

If I lived in a cold climate like Norway I'd probably gain at least ten pounds every winter.  I used orecchiette pasta.  I think it is adorable.  There are many, many shapes and sizes.  There are some I have never seen before, like garganelli, riceioli di sfoglia, and spighe.  I need to spend more time in gourmet grocery stores.

The first know written reference of pasta was in Sicily in 1154.  Horace, a Roman poet, wrote about lagana, a friend flat piece of dough, in 1 AD.  English adopted the Italian word pasta.  There are dried and fresh pastas.  There are 310 forms of pasta.

Italian eat about 60 pounds of pasta per person per year.  American eat about 20 pounds of pasta per person per year.  Pasta is usually made from semolina flour, but barley, rye, buckwheat, rice, and corn are also used to make pasta.

I came up with this little gem of a recipe myself.  I wanted to make it especially hearty so I packed it full of bacon and chicken.  I added sun dried tomatoes for sweetness and chew and to make the dish "healthy."

The ingredients are 4 thick cut bacon slices, 1/4 cup butter, 4 tablespoons all purpose flour, 2 cups milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, black pepper, 8 ounces cheddar cheese, 1/8 cup parmesan, 3 ounces sun dried tomatoes, 1 12.5 ounce can chicken breast in water, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, and 8 ounces pasta.  I used canned chicken, but a cooked chicken breast would work like a champ.

I baked the bacon for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  I cooked more than four slices, but I only used four slices in this recipe.

While I cooked the pasta according to the package's instructions, I prepared the sauce.  I melted the butter in a pot over medium heat.  I added the flour.  I stirred and cooked the roux until the flour was slightly golden brown.

I gradually added the milk.  After each addition, I stirred until there were no lumps and the milk was fully incorporated into the sauce.  I continued to stir until the sauce had thickened.  This is called a b√©chamel sauce.

I added the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and grated cheese.  I removed the sauce from the heat and stirred until all the cheese had melted.

I added the sun dried tomatoes, drained chicken breast, chopped bacon, and mustard.

I stirred all the sauce ingredients together and then poured the sauce over the cooked and drained pasta.  I undercooked the pasta slightly because I baked the macaroni in the oven for a bit.

I stirred the macaroni and then poured the pasta into a casserole dish that I greased liberally.

I baked the macaroni for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  All the ingredients were cooked, but I wanted to thicken the sauce, firm up the dish, and make it hot and toasty.

This dish was phenomenal.  It was cheesy, rich, and self-indulgent.

The sauce was gooey and creamy.  It was full of flavor.  The red chili flakes gave the dish a little heat.

The bacon was crisp and succulent.  The dried tomatoes were sweet and chewy.  

The edges became golden in the oven while center was melted and warm.

The dish was savory and hearty.  It was mouthwatering and sumptuous.  I give this recipe two enthusiastic thumbs up.


Kelly - Life Made Sweeter said...

This looks like the perfect comforting meal to have especially when it's snowing outside! Love the sun-dried tomatoes!

laura said...

Me too Kelly!