Monday, October 31, 2011

Chicken Spaghetti

I have heard a LOT about The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  However, I resisted going to her website.  I thought many of her things would be far too difficult for me to make or require a BUNCH of ingredients for one meal that I don't normally have on hand and would never use again unless I made that meal again.  Boy howdy, I was wrong! (She also has an iced coffee recipe that I am dying to try -- I need to peruse her recipes a bit more.)

I think I was looking around on other blogs for ideas for freezer meals and someone's list pointed be to the PW and her Chicken Spaghetti.  I thought I would at least give it a whirl.  I have never had anything smell SO GOOD while I was prepping it.  I wished I had actually tripled the recipe so we could have one pan for dinner that night.  Alas, I had to settle for just taking a test bite here and there.  Yummy!!  Seriously, though, I just wanted to stand there and sniff at it the rest of the day.  It was sad to cover it up and stick it in the freezer for when Baby #3 arrives.  Sigh.  I generally have most of these ingredients in my pantry and if I don't they are not going to sit forever waiting to be used.  I think I was out of Cayenne Pepper so I just left it out.

You can find the recipe here:  Chicken Spaghetti

However, if you just print out the recipe card from her site I would suggest reading through the whole post for more specifics on what to do and what not to do.  I will post my extended version with specifics below.

Chicken Spaghetti  (from The Pioneer Woman)

2 cups Cooked Chicken (from whole fryer cut up or other source)
3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
¼ cups Finely Diced Green Pepper
¼ cups Finely Diced Onion
1 jar (4 Ounce) Diced Pimentos, Drained
2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
⅛ teaspoons (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Fill large pot (think stock pot or pasta pot) with water.  Put on stove and start heating the water.
Wash each chicken piece.  Add chicken to water.  Bring to a rolling boil and let boil for a few minutes.  Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for a good 30 to 45 minutes.

Dice green pepper and onion.  Drain the 4 oz jar of pimentos. (If they came diced, awesome!  If they are sliced dice them up a bit).

Next, break the thin spaghetti into 2-inch pieces until you have around 2 1/2 to 3 cups. (if you’re careful and keep the spaghetti nice and packed, it should be around 2 1/2 – 3 cups, uncooked.)

Remove cooked chicken from pot.  Reserve 2 cups of the broth.  Turn the pot with the rest of the broth to high heat.  When it is boiling again add the spaghetti.  Cook to al dente (remember you will be baking this again later!)  Drain and set aside.

When the chicken is cool, remove chicken meat from bones.  You will need two cups (packed) of meat.

**Note: You can use any cut of chicken you like. I like the whole fryer because it gives you a mixture of dark and light meat, but if you’d like to do just breasts, that would work just fine! Also, if you have cooked chicken from another source (leftovers, etc), that’s fine too; just be sure to add a small amount of canned chicken broth to the water before you boil the spaghetti. (Not too much, though, or the dish will be too salty.)

Add chicken to large mixing bowl.  Add chicken and 2 cans of Cream of Mushroom soup.  (Sometimes I like to use Cream of Chicken & Mushroom soup. You can do one of each, or pick one. They both work beautifully.)  Add the diced green pepper, onion, and pimentos.  Add 2 Cups grated sharp cheese.  1 tsp Lawry’s seasoning salt.  Generous seasoning with black pepper.  1/8 to ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (1/8 of a tsp is usually good for little mouths.)

Now start adding the chicken broth, beginning with 1 cup. Stir it up, then add a little more. You want the mixture to be stirrable, but definitely not soupy. I usually stop just short of using the full two cups.

Stir thoroughly, then take a bite and check your seasonings. Add a little salt if needed, a little more pepper, and maybe a little more Cayenne if you didn’t have enough Chutzpa the first time around. Make sure it’s seasoned enough!

Place in any shape casserole dish.  Top with an additional 1 cup of shredded cheese.

At this point, you can cover it well and freeze it, unbaked. Or you can cover it and refrigerate it, unbaked, for up to two days before baking. Or, if your family is salivating and rending their garments in hunger and agony, go ahead and bake it at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes until hot & bubbly.

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