Here is a great (if fattening) chicken casserole. You can use almost any chicken in this. It’s great with the Easy Shredded Chicken that I’ve already posted. You could also use leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken from the grocery. Or just use boneless chicken breasts and start this process by cooking the chicken in the skillet or pot you’re going to use before you cook the bacon.
I almost never make this in only one dish. When our children were growing up, they really didn’t like leftovers so I would make almost any casserole in two square pans, and wrap up one of the pans and put it in the freezer and bake it off in 3 or 4 weeks and it wasn’t leftovers! Now that it’s just Rob and me most of the time, I make a casserole in 3 or 4 small pans and do the same thing. See the notes at the bottom of the recipe of this technique.
12 ounces spaghetti
8 – 12 ounces bacon (depending on how much you like bacon)
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup carrots, diced (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 – 3 cups cooked chicken (it can be shredded or cut into bite-size pieces)
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated (divided)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil (spray) a 9×13 inch baking dish. Set aside the oiled dish.
- Cook the spaghetti according to package directions, drain and set aside.
- While the spaghetti is cooking, cook the bacon in a Dutch oven or large skillet (ideally you want a pot or pan large enough to hold the meat, sauce, vegetables, and pasta) over medium-high heat. Remove the bacon to drain on a paper towel-lined plate and crumble when cooled.
- After removing the bacon from the Dutch oven, drain off the bacon grease leaving just 2 tablespoons in the pan. Add the butter and allow to melt. Add the onions and carrots. Cook the onions and carrots over medium-high heat until they are softened and the onions are beginning to brown on the edges. Sprinkle the flour over the cooked vegetables and mix the flour into the fat and juices in the pan to form a roux. Add the chicken broth and stir everything together, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Add the milk and bring this mixture to a light boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, and the Dijon mustard. Allow this mixture to warm up over low heat so the cream cheese and the other cheeses have melted into the mixture. Turn off the heat and add 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, the chicken, and the crumbled bacon. Stir all this together. Now add the pasta to this mixture. Be sure the pasta is thoroughly coated with the sauce.
- Pour the sauce and pasta mixture into the 13 x 9 casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheddar cheese over the pasta and sauce.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let rest for 5 – 10 minutes after removing from the oven. Serve and enjoy.
- You can either bake this immediately or freeze some or all.
NOTE: If you like, you can divide this casserole into 2 – 4 smaller casserole dishes and put some of them unbaked in the freezer. When you go to bake off one from the freezer, you can defrost it in the fridge for about 12 hours and then bake for about 30 minutes in the 350-degree oven until hot and bubbly. If you’re like me, you don’t think that far ahead and you just bake it longer. Just cover the foil pan with foil and put it on a cookie sheet in the hot oven and bake for an hour. Remove the foil covering the pan and gently stick a butter knife in the center of the casserole. This will give you an idea of how well the casserole is thawing. If there is still a really hard frozen piece of casserole in the middle of the pan, return the foil covering and bake for another 15 minutes and check again. When there is little or no resistance in the middle of the pan, remove the foil covering and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes until it’s hot and bubbly.