Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chicken noodle pea casserole

It's an ungainly title for a dish that is absolutely amazing. My mom made up this recipe a while ago, so I don't feel at all bad about sharing it. It's been a family favorite for a long, long time. I introduced Shane to it and he requests it rather frequently. From the title, you know most of what's in it already.

Chicken Noodle Pea Casserole:
One whole chicken breast
3-4 carrots
2 cloves garlic
Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta, or another shaped bulk pasta (like penne)
Vegetable or chicken stock--maybe 12 oz? I just add until it looks right
Cream cheese (about one package)
Salt, pepper

First, start some water boiling for your noodles and toss them in when it's ready.
Cut up a whole chicken breast and brown in olive oil, salt, and pepper. When it's nearly done, add in some chopped garlic. When the garlic and chicken are cooked through, add diced or grated carrots (I usually go with diced because I find it easier, but my mom always grates them) and cook until the carrots have softened a bit. Transfer to a bowl and pour in frozen peas. (Or fresh, if you have them.)
In the pan, deglaze it (bring up the chicken and vegetable parts that have cooked onto it) with some vegetable or chicken broth, then add 8 ounces of cream cheese. Mix the cheese around until it's totally melted into the stock. Then add back the vegetables and chicken mix, stirring around until it's incorporated into the sauce. Don't worry if it's watery, though! It's supposed to be because you still need to add the noodles once they're done cooking. They are? Oh good! Add those to the mix. Done. If we have parmesan on hand, I grate a bunch on top before I serve it. But if we don't happen to have parmesan, I don't worry about it. It's fantastic either way.
As I said, this is a family favorite. It's so fast and easy that it's no trouble to throw together on a weeknight. In fact, it's easy enough to make even if we've got something going on in the evening. And we fight over the leftovers.
If/when my peas start producing, this is one of the recipes I'm looking forward to using them in. With my own peas, pasta in bulk, and making my own stock and cream cheese, this will be a yummy zero waste recipe.

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