Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday's Fab Five - Monterey Chicken Casserole

When whole chickens are on sale, I buy a couple.  Then I only have to debone chickens once and  deboning chickens is not my favorite thing (because it gets under my nails).  I'll do anything to save my manicures and my time both.  Bonus!

So, when I buy whole chickens, I put them in the crockpot with 1/2 cup of water and cook them on low overnight.  Then I take them out and let them cool on a wire rack placed in a cookie sheet.

When they are cool, the meat comes easily off the bones.  Throw away the bones and skin, but keep the yummy meat and the broth.  Now, to be honest, I really don't enjoy this whole process, but it gives you moister chicken than the easy way.  (Easy way:  Put boneless, skinless chicken breasts on a foil lined cookie sheet and cook for 30 minutes.  When they have cooled you can cut them into bite sized pieces.)

I freeze the meat in freezer quality "ziplock" type bags and the broth in jars.  Then, I have the basic ingredients for soup.  (I'll be giving you some soup recipes soon, but Houston in August is NOT soup weather.)

The other bags of frozen chicken are ready to go in many different recipes.  But, here's a recipe for Monterey Chicken Casserole which is based off of the Monterey Chicken that Chili's serves.


16 ounces pasta (this works for gluten free pasta too)
1 jar barbeque sauce
2 cups chicken (or 2 big handfuls, no one is going to notice), cooked and diced
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups grated cheese (a mixture of Monterey Jack and Cheddar is best, but just cheddar works too)
green onions
cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Cook the pasta till it is almost done (if the directions give a time range I do it a little less than the lowest number).  You want it underdone since it will cook more in the oven.  Drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water so that it stops cooking.  Place it in the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Pour the bottle of barbeque sauce on the pasta and stir it up.

Then, layer the chicken and the bacon on top of pasta.

Finally, top with cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees until it is all heated through.

When you serve it, place sliced tomatoes and slice green onions on top of the pasta.  Now, I don't have pictures of it finished because I took it to friends who are remodeling their kitchen and they had a snafu that meant they couldn't take pictures for me - long story.

This casserole would freeze well too!

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