Cooking On A Budget: Creamy Chicken and Pasta

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Creamy Chicken and Pasta

A simple creamy sauce paired with some roasted chicken and bow tie pasta and we had a filling and delicious weeknight meal.

What an amazingly simple make over meal this is! Left over roasted chicken with pasta and a delicious yet light cream sauce and a touch of fresh herb for color and flavor made this a delightful and super easy weeknight dinner.
It's all about re-purposing what you have when you cook on a budget and coming up with meals that everyone in the family will enjoy. I am pretty sure the kiddos will love this as well. I used bow-tie pasta, but any hearty pasta will do. (penne, ziti)
  • 3 cups of left over chicken - diced in bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 box bow tie pasta 
  • 1 1/4 cups half and half
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley minced or use dried 
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Dice up your chicken and mince some parsley and set aside.
  2. Cook your pasta of choice to el dente, drain but do not rinse.
  3. In a large skillet add the half and half, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, ground black pepper and some salt to taste. Whisk together and cook over medium low heat.
  4. When the cream just starts to bubble add in the parsley and stir.
  5. Add in your cooked pasta and stir well. Then add in the chicken and stir well.
  6. Cook on low for a few minutes until the chicken is warmed through.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4-6 portions
Cost: $2.95, feed four for 73¢ or six for 49¢

When you first add in the pasta and chicken the dish will look like this:

Turn your heat off, leave it covered and as the dish sets a bit it looks like this: (The sauce begins to coat the pasta better.)

Salt and pepper is solely a matter of taste. For me I would have enjoyed more salt, but since we are both watching sodium intake I went light on the salt. Plus the Parmesan cheese is salty on its own. This is a dish you can lightly salt on your own and the taste will be fine as long as you added salt to the pasta water.

Speaking of that I have a sort of funny kitchen story to tell - if I haven't already. I have been watching Chef Anne Burrell for years and always wondered about the amount of kosher salt she tosses in pasta water. So this one time quite a few months ago I decided to mimic her amount of salt in the pasta water.  She appears to throw in a good handful or more. Maybe it's because I've decreased salt since my heart attack, but dear lord we couldn't eat the pasta. It was so gosh darn salty it ruined the dish. So there's a balance between bland and pasta that is salted properly.

Here are my pasta cooking tips:
  1. When you are filling the pot - use hot water. It will come up to a boil faster.
  2. Also put a lid on it to further get the water to a boil.
  3. Add a cap full of oil to the water. I am a believer that it helps keep the pasta from clumping and sticking to the bottom of the pot. Ever since I started doing that - no more clumps!
  4. Add the salt when the water comes up to a full boil. Watch out the water rises!
  5. Stir your pasta a few times at the beginning and then because of the oil it won't stick to the bottom or clump. You can then let the pasta do its' thing.
  6. Drain your pasta and if using a sauce to coat, do not rinse. You need that extra starch for the dish and the sauce will cling better if it's not rinsed.
  7. Always cook your pasta to el dente according to box directions, especially if adding into a sauce where it will cook more in the sauce.
  8. Internet research led me to amounts of salt per pound of pasta. Most are recommending at least 1 tablespoon or more of kosher salt to 5 quarts of water. My tip: be your own judge. 

You can pin any of these photos, here's another one:

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