Did I have your attention at the mention of bacon? The other day, when I was brainstorming names for this dish, I rattled this one off to my husband, to which he replied “I’d order it off of a menu.” Sold.
Pretty fance name though. Sounds like I spent hours on the dish. To be perfectly honest with you, this quick recipe was born out of necessity. See, I had planned to make an easy, family-pleasing Skillet Cordon Bleu, but arrived home from work to find that not only was the Canadian bacon bad (just bought it the other day, don’t know what happened there. Ew.) but in addition, I grossly overestimated how many chicken breasts we had remaining in the freezer. (I had forgotten to defrost the chicken the night before, triple whammy!) There were only two in the house. Obviously poor planning on my part. Time for Plan B.
Let’s see…Plan B…what was Plan B?
Thinking…thinking…thinking… (Just imagine me, standing in the pantry, then staring at the fridge. Back to the pantry. Fridge. Pantry. Fridge. Pantry.)
Pasta is always easy, and it is one way to stretch a small amount of meat (and the budget!) without complaints from the family. Plus, I earn bonus points with our oldest whenever I make pasta. The boy could eat his weight in pasta if we let him. (Which, if it was a whole grain pasta, that might not be the worst thing I could do…) Anyway, what else to add to the pasta and chicken? I had some fresh broccoli, a little bacon, cream cheese, and Parmesan, so we were in business!
This dish took around 30 minutes from start to finish, and was satisfying and tasty! The parsley, which came from my garden, really made the dish fresh and bright. The addition of the beer (I didn’t have wine on hand, so I improvised) and the Parmesan really added depth and fullness to the sauce, without making it heavy. I always consider pasta dishes to be comfort food, although in this instance, the addition of broccoli, the use of chicken breasts and a high-fiber pasta makes me feel a little less guilty about the nutritional content. Does this mean that I can rationalize my way into having seconds? Why yes, I believe I can!
8 oz penne pasta
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ t crushed red pepper
1 T olive oil
1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets (can include stems too!)
2 strips bacon, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c beer (or white wine, if you prefer)
3 oz cream cheese
½ c milk
¼ c Parmesan, grated
1/3 c parsley, chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook penne pasta according to directions.
Meanwhile, bring a large sauté pan to medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and the crushed red pepper. Add olive oil to pan, and once shimmering, add chicken, spreading out into a single layer. Allow to cook, untouched, for 3-4 minutes, and then stir to turn pieces over. Cook until no longer pink, about 6-7 minutes total. Remove from pan and set aside.
Using a medium saucepan and a steamer insert, steam broccoli until crisp-tender.
Add bacon to sauté pan. Turn heat down to medium, and cook bacon for 4-5 minutes or until crisp. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add beer and scrape bottom of pan to remove brown bits. Let reduce until beer is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add cream cheese and milk, and allow cream cheese to melt and milk to warm without boiling, stirring occasionally. Once completely warmed and simmering, add parmesan, and stir to incorporate. Add chicken, pasta, and broccoli and stir. Add parsley and stir.