Monday, April 23, 2012

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

I was looking online for dinner inspiration and came across a recipe for Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta. I had never heard of such a thing. The recipe called for cream of chicken soup, a packet of ranch dressing mix, sour cream, chicken, bacon and pasta.  I thought that the idea might be a tasty one, but I didn't want to use the same ingredients. I nixed the can of soup, the sour cream and the packet of ranch dressing mix in favor of a roux thickened with chicken broth, and some bottled ranch dressing. It turned out pretty well. The family liked it and it was easy enough that I could make it for a dinner in a hurry if I needed to again.

Here's what I did:

I cut up 1/2 pound of bacon into small strips. (The French call this lardons.)

Then I put the bacon in a dry pan to start cooking.

I brought one large pot of water up to boil and generously salted it.

Then I added one box of pasta. Any shape would work. I thought the kids might like wagon wheels tonight.

After the pasta was in, I stirred it well so that they wouldn't stick together. You'll want to cook the pasta 1 minute shy of the box directions. (I cooked the pasta for 6 minutes and then drained the pasta, reserving about 2 cups of the pasta water for later.)

The bacon is done (actually a little over done, but oh well). It gets drained on paper towel while I finish the meal.

I diced one medium onion, and put it in the pan with the bacon drippings. (Don't make  that face. I didn't say this was health food - I mean, it has bacon and pasta in the name. You know it will taste good. I guess if you had do pour off some of that liquid gold to make your waistline happy you could do that.)

Now, I cut up 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound of chicken) into 1 inch pieces. . .

and I added the chicken in with the onions. (No need to salt, because the bacon drippings are salty.)

When the chicken looked done, I added 1/3 up of flour, and stirred it around until I couldn't see the flour anymore. I cooked it for 1 minute,

and then added 1 can (1 1/2 cups) of chicken broth. (I really should just take some of my Homemade Chicken Stock out of the freezer each morning because I use stock/broth almost every day. But alas, this mommy of 4 can barely remember to do my hair, let alone get stock out of the freezer for dinner. Oh well. That's why I stock up on the canned stuff when it goes on sale.)

After all the broth was mixed in, and the sauce started to bubble, I added 2/3 cup of bottled ranch dressing.

I then tasted the sauce and thought it needed more flavor . . . so I added 1/2 tsp granulated garlic,

1/2 tsp dry dill weed (rubbed between my hands before added),

the juice of 1/2 a lemon,

and a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce.

I then added the pasta - remembering to reserve my cooking water.

I stirred the pasta in and added 1 cup of the pasta water. (I reserved 2 cups total in case the pasta got dry later.  After dinner, the pasta did look a little dry, so I added the other 1 cup of pasta water before I put away the leftovers.)

When the thinness of the sauce was to my liking, I added the bacon in and served.

The kids actually requested this for breakfast the next morning as well. I know - it's a little strange; but you can't say they didn't like it. :)

Here's the recipe:

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

1/2 pound of bacon, cut into pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound of boneless skinless chicken cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup of flour
1 14.5 oz can (or 1 1/2 cups) of chicken broth or stock
2/3 cup ranch dressing
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp dry dill weed
juice of 1/2 lemon
couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
3/4 pound to 1 pound pasta
2 cups pasta water, divided

Cook bacon pieces in a very large, dry skillet until done. Spoon out the cooked bacon onto paper towels to drain, keeping the bacon drippings in the pan. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water generously and add the pasta - cooking it for 1 minute shy of the directions. Drain the pasta, but reserve the pasta water. Add the onion and the chicken to the bacon drippings and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle the flour into the pan. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth or stock and stir. When the sauce bubbles, add the ranch dressing, garlic, dill, lemon, and the Worcestershire. Stir to combine and check for seasoning. Carefully stir in the drained pasta and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. When the sauce is to your liking, add the bacon back in and serve. - Use the remaining 1 cup of pasta water as needed, adding it to the dish if it gets too dry.

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