I laugh at the roses in the photo behind this plate of spaghetti. Pitts has this saying about putting a pig in a dress. After all, this is just chicken spaghetti. But baked Chicken Spaghetti gets a complete pass in my book. To me, with a salad and some crusty bread, Chicken Spaghetti is as good as it gets and suitable for paper plates and fine china. And for a dish that probably costs just over a dollar a serving depending on what type of chicken you purchase, it is a rare “no fail” dinner plan.
I have been fussing over Chicken Spaghetti recipes forever. I have asked for and received at least a dozen recipes in my search. This recipe constitutes the best of what I’ve found. There are several reasons I like it. It contains no “cream of” soups, so one can dictate the flavor profile. And, it can be made with a pound of any sort of cooked chicken. You may roast or boil a whole chicken, buy a rotisserie chicken, or do as I did and pan grill a few chicken cutlets. I have also made it using chicken tenders. As long as you end up with a pound of cooked meat, you are good to go. This made a hefty 13” x 9” casserole that could easily feed six to eight people. No matter how it is prepared, it is a comfort, a convenience and a bargain.
1 pound cooked shredded chicken
¾ cup chopped onions
2 cups chopped vegetables (red, yellow, and green bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, celery)
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
1-½ cans (14.5 ounce cans) of low sodium chicken broth
½ cup Half & Half
8 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese (about 6 in the dish, and 2 for the topping)
8 oz. spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente and drained
½ cup buttered Panko crumbs
4 oz. canned chopped green chiles
1 tomato, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
First, season and cook the chicken. I use Johnny’s Seasoning Salt, but a little salt and pepper is fine, instead. Pan grill the chicken (or cook in a non-stick skillet) until cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes and then chop it up into small pieces.
Melt the butter in a sauté pan. When the butter has melted, add all of the chopped vegetables, onion and garlic and sauté until tender. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook for another minute or two, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth and continue to stir until a thick sauce has formed. Add the Half & Half and stir until combined. Add the chopped tomatoes, green chiles and 6 ounces of the cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Add the chopped chicken and stir. Now, taste this sauce and add salt and pepper. It will need it. We have used low sodium broth and we are not using canned cream soups which typically add a lot of sodium. You will need to season at this point. Seriously, taste it.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in boiling water until al dente and then drain the spaghetti.
If you have room in the sauté pan, add the noodles. I usually end up transferring the sauce to the emptied noodle pot and then add the noodles back in with the sauce. Regardless, add the noodles to the sauce and stir to incorporate the sauce and vegetables into the noodles. This takes a little doing, but keep stirring or re-arranging with tongs until the vegetables and chicken are well distributed. Transfer the Chicken Spaghetti to a casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
In a small bowl, combine 1 Tablespoon of melted butter and ½ cup of Panko crumbs. Season with seasoning salt, or regular salt. Distribute the remaining cheddar cheese on top of the chicken spaghetti and then sprinkle the Panko on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Allow the casserole to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.
For the chopped vegetables, consider hitting the salad bar at your grocery store. Bell peppers can get pricey and you really don’t need that much. I procured all of the veggies in the photos at the Whole Foods Market prepared vegetable area, pre-washed and pre-sliced. All I had to do when I got home was plop them out on the chopping block and give them a thorough chopping. Also, I usually cook more noodles than I need to and then I can use them or not use them based on the consistency of the sauce. If the casserole seems too “wet” you can simply add a few more noodles.
You can use regular bread crumbs instead of Panko.
The green chiles are totally optional, but I like the mild kick that they contribute.
If you make Chicken Spaghetti of any sort (as long as it doesn’t have olives in it), call me so that I can come eat at your house…I’m salivating just typing about it. Also, my mom tells me that if you sweet talk the folks in your grocery store deli department, they will actually de-bone a rotisserie chicken for a nominal fee. That is good information to have.