Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chicken, Bacon, and Spinach Pasta in Creamy Garlic Sauce

We are a low carb kind of family. Not because of any dietary restrictions (although technically Jeremy does have an intolerance to wheat), but just because we don't happen to eat a lot of bread and pasta. I do make a pretty classic spaghetti and have an awesome lasagna recipe thanks to a google search for World's Best Lasagna (seriously, do it). But I really don't have an original, yummy pasta dish in our regular rotation. 

Until now. 

Usually when I think a dish is going to make it to the blog for a review, I take pictures as I go. But when I found this recipe, I just thought it would be a nice change for dinner. It wasn't until I tasted it that I immediately wanted to put it on the blog. So within just a few days, I made it again so I could capture each step for you. This dish is so easy and yet has such a depth of flavor - my favorite kind of dish. Seriously, the sauce is crazy creamy and fully of flavor. Even the leftovers made my mouth water.

Credit where credit is due....This recipe is slightly adapted from the original one here.

Here we go.

You will need the following ingredients:
  • 2-3 T. olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken cooked to your preferred method, then shredded
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning 
  • 5 medium tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb bacon, cooked, drained, and chopped
  • 1 and 1/3 cups half and half
  • 1 and 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 10 oz penne pasta 
And now for the directions.

First, cook your pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. You can also do this step last if you want. 

Next, cook your chopped bacon until cooked (but not crispy), then drain and set aside.

I typically cook a couple of whole fryer chickens every couple of weeks just so I have chicken to throw in to this or that. So I just grabbed a pound of that to use for this recipe.

I used a dutch oven and heated a combination of the olive oil with a little bit of bacon grease, then I threw in the chicken. This begins the layering of flavors.

Stir in the paprika and Italian seasoning with the chicken.

 Once the chicken is coated in yummy flavor, remove, drain, and set aside.

Throw the tomatoes into the same pan where you cooked the chicken. This is how the flavor deepens. You already have they flavor of the bacon in the oil, then you add the flavor of chicken with the seasoning, and then here comes the tomatoes soaking up all that yumminess.

In goes the garlic. Keep mixing.

And then the spinach. Oh my goodness. Look how delicious. Seriously. That juice from the tomatoes (with all that flavor) will be the base of the sauce.

Every year, we grow chili peppers in our garden and keep them until they are all dried out. I throw them in the food processor and then voila, we have our own homemade red pepper flakes. The flavor is the best.

So throw that in too and mix it all up.

Next, stir back in half the chicken and half the bacon (the rest will be added at the end). I can think of a dozen ways to use this mixture above including licking it right out of the pan (you know in case you don't want the pasta at all).

Stir everything all together so the flavors can all get married (I'm pretty sure I just stole that from Rachael Ray (unless it's an actual cooking term, in which case, this is the first time I'm using it - Yeah, me)).

Now for the creamy goodness. Stir in the half and half and bring it to a boil.

Once it boils, stir in the Parmesan cheese and simmer it for a couple of minutes.

Finally, throw all that pasta in and mix it together with the sauce.

Stir in the remaining chicken and bacon and serve it hot.

Eat it.

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