Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chicken Spaghetti - One Method, Two Ways

I really like when a recipe is versatile.  You know, you can use the same process, but create different dishes, depending upon what's in your pantry or what you're in the mood for.  This is one of those.  I'm going to show you one basic method for chicken spaghetti, then show you how to make two distinct recipes using that method.


The first thing you need to do is poach some chicken.  This not only cooks the chicken, but also leaves you with a flavorful chicken broth that you will use again later.  You can use a whole cut-up chicken or just bone-in thighs or drumsticks, or boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  All you do is adjust the cooking time.  You cook the bone-in pieces longer than the boneless.  Very versatile.

Fill a big pot about half-way full of water.  Add the chicken pieces and some salt (a few teaspoons).  You could leave it at that.  But if you want your broth to have more flavor add some chunks of onion (yellow, purple, green onion - any will do), carrot, celery, even stems from parsley.  Sometimes I even throw in a chicken bullion cube to boost the chicken taste.  Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.  For boneless breasts this takes about 20-30 minutes.  For bone-in chicken it takes a bit longer, about 35-45 minutes, depending on how big the pieces are.  Just take a piece out and cut it in half to check.  If it doesn't have any blood (the juices run clear) then it's done.  (You're gonna shred the chicken later anyway, so cutting it to check is no big deal).

When the chicken is done, remove it to a plate and let cool.  Meanwhile, remove the veggies from the broth and discard them.  (Save the broth!)  You can strain the broth through a sieve if you want, but it's not necessary.  Bring the broth back to a boil and add your spaghetti, broken into thirds. (You can use any cut of pasta you have)  By cooking it in the broth, you are adding chicken flavor directly into the pasta.  Cook the pasta until al dente (don't over cook it because it will finish cooking in the oven later).

While the pasta is cooking, shred the chicken.

That's the basic method.  It's what you do with the chicken and pasta that changes the recipe.  I like to make it two ways.  One is a red spaghetti and one is a white spaghetti.  First, let's talk about the red.


Once the pasta (I used Rotini here) is cooked and drained (you can discard the broth at this point for this recipe), mix in a little of your favorite marinara sauce.  (Whether you made it yourself or it's from a jar - doesn't matter.  As long as you like the taste of it, it'll work for this recipe)  Mix in just enough to tint the pasta pinkish-red.  Like this:

Next, mix in the shredded chicken.  Pour into a 9x13 baking dish.  (Spray it with cooking spray for easier clean-up)

Top with mozarella cheese (or provolone).

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes (until heated through and the cheese is melted).

Serve topped with the remaining sauce.

Simple, but so yummy.  Cooking the pasta in the chicken broth gives this dish a wonderful depth of flavor.  You gotta try it.

Now onto the second Chicken Spaghetti.


Once the pasta is cooked, save about 1 cup of the broth.  I dip a measuring cup into the pot and kind of scoop it out.  (You'll need this broth later)  Then, drain the pasta.  Mix in the shredded chicken, a can of condensed cream of chicken soup, 1 diced carrot, 1/2 of an onion, diced, and 2 TBS chopped parsley.  Mix well.  Add in enough of the reserved chicken broth to loosen it up.  You don't want it too thick or too soupy.  Somewhere in the middle.  Then salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

 This tastes like a combination of chicken noodle soup and a chicken pot pie.  Really tasty and so comforting!  My husband and kids loved it.  They told me it was a "Keeper".

So, I hope you give this method a try.  And feel free to change up the recipes according to your taste (and what's in your pantry).  That's the great thing about this method.  The recipe possibilities are endless.  Enjoy!

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