I was having lunch with a friend of mine, and she said that many times, cooking for her family has become so stressful that she just dreads it. When I asked her why, she said that after a long day, there is nothing more frustrating that coming home, rushing to get dinner on the table and getting grunts of, “I don’t like this”, “why are you making me eat spinach”, “we’re having ‘X’ AGAIN?!!” and the ever so popular, “can I have cereal instead?!” that it just deflates her. Then to look at the sink and see pots and pans and dishes galore…I get it! ANYONE would feel deflated, and guess what? NOBODY wants to have to tackle a sink full of dishes after dinner – especially after a long day.
I couldn’t get our conversation out of my head. A couple of days later, I gave her a call and asked her if there were any foods that her family agreed on? Pizza (of course), spaghetti and meatballs (yummy) and BACON!!! PERFECT!!! I said, “what are you doing tomorrow afternoon?!” and I gave her a small grocery list and I went over for a little cooking lesson. Cyn’s Bacon Pasta night baby!!!
Knowing her family likes pasta, chicken and bacon, I figured this would be a winner and BONUS…you do it all in ONE POT! The trick is to get organized, and after showing her some tricks and tips, we had this bad boy cooked and the kitchen CLEAN in about 45 minutes. The trick is to ‘clean as you cook’. Unless you’re making a four course meal for a small dinner party, you end up having some down time, so it’s just a matter of managing your time and your ingredients so they are ready for you when you need them, instead of you rushing around to get dinner ready.
So, my sweet Smarty Friends, if your family loves chicken, bacon, pasta and NOT doing a ton of dishes, you might want to give this one a try. I have a feeling no one is going to reach for a cereal bowl ☺
First things first, let’s get those ingredients ready! Chicken breast, Bacon, Fresh Garlic, Shallots, Pasta, White Wine, Chicken Broth, Grape Tomatoes, Salt and Pepper, Onion POWDER, Garlic POWDER, Paprika, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Sugar and Parmesan Cheese (scallions or green onions are optional).
I know it seems like a lot of ingredients, but most of them are in the wet rub/marinade, which will take you 2 minutes to throw together (tip – put the spices away when you’re done making the rub and you’ll have less clutter and more counter space for the rest). Boil your pasta to the ‘al’ dente’ instructions on the box, or a minute shy of what it tells you. While that’s boiling, you want to go ahead and grate your cheese (you want a good handful – like ¼ C grated) and set aside.
While the pasta is boiling, this is a great time to slice up your bacon. As you can see, the last inch was like ALL fat, so I just snipped off the very top bit (that had the meat on it) and discarded the rest of that last inch – set aside until ready to use.
In a small bowl, mix the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, olive oil, vinegar and ½ tsp sugar together. I just use a fork and “whisk” it well, getting rid of any lumps. It will look like a somewhat thick but runny, grainy ketchup.
Pour ALL of the marinade over the chicken, and mix well and set aside to let the flavors absorb while until you’re ready for it. NOTE: I use every.last.bit. of the marinade! There is a TON of flavor in there, so grab that spatula baby, and scoop it on out!
Slice your tomatoes in half and mince your shallot. My shallot was HUGE, so I ended up using only half of it for this recipe.
Even though I only used half of the shallot for this recipe, I still chopped up the whole thing, and put the other minced half into a zip-lock baggie and into the freezer it went for a little short cut on my next mid week dinner. Grate your garlic and keep in the grater until your ready to use it.
Once your pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander and drizzle a little olive oil over it and stir well and let it hang out in the sink until you’re ready for it. It won’t stick or clump up, or at least nothing a little stir won’t break up. And because you cooked it a minute or two shy of what the box said (or to ‘al dente), it won’t get mushy while you wait.
Someone once told me that you should always start bacon in a cold pan, so that’s what I do. In the SAME pan I cooked my pasta, I fry up my bacon. Once it’s crisp, I remove it onto a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. There is a LOT of fat in the pan, so I drain all of the bacon fat, keeping only about a tablespoon in the pan and discard the rest.
Over med/hi heat, add the chicken (again, use that spatula to scrape that bowl clean!) and every bit of the marinade to the hot pan. Give it a good stir to coat the chicken in the bacon fat and set your timer! 2 minutes…stir…2 MORE minutes, stir and you’ll start to see some great color on your chicken – add the onions and garlic. Cook for another 4 minutes, stirring from time to time so that it cooks evenly and the garlic doesn’t burn.
Now you want to turn the heat up a little and then add the wine and chicken stock. Use a WOODEN spoon to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to loosen up all of those yummy bacon and chicken bits. Bring to the boil, and cook for about 3 minutes so that it reduces a some.
Add the tomatoes, and about a ½ tsp of sugar. Stir everything well, lower the heat and give it taste for seasoning. My tomatoes were still a little acidic, so I added another ½ tsp of sugar and a little more salt and pepper. Cook on low for another 2 minutes, then turn the heat off, and add the pasta and cheese and stir well. Add the cooked bacon that you had set aside, and give it another good mix.
I used the rest of the tomatoes, and an over ripe avocado I had lying around, and made a quick salad to serve with the pasta, and some extra Parmesan cheese on the side for anyone who wants a little extra.
Trust me, once the bacon hits the pan, the only thing you’ll be hearing is, “when is dinner ready?!!” and the only thing they’ll be reaching for are seconds! Enjoy! Xoxo
Cyn’s Bacon Pasta…with chicken
* 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes
* 5 Slices of your favorite bacon (I like center cut)
* 1 garlic clove, grated
* 1 small shallot, minced
* ½ C White Wine (I like using chardonnay)
* 1/3 C Chicken Broth (I like reduced sodium/low fat or fat free)
* 1 ½ tsp Onion Powder (sometimes called ‘granulated onion’) NOT onion salt
* 1 tsp Garlic Powder (sometimes called ‘granulated onion’) NOT garlic salt
* salt and pepper to taste
* 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* 1 TBS Red Wine Vinegar, or White Wine Vinegar or Plain Vinegar
* ½ tsp to 1 ½ tsp sugar DIVIDED *** You only want ½ tsp in the marinade
* Green Onions/scallions (optional)
8 oz (approx half of a 1 lb box) of your favorite pasta (I like Penne) – cook in salted water to about a minute shy of the instructions on the box or to ‘al dente