Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Creamy Chicken and Penne

This is just a quickie recipe that we put together last night for dinner.  It was really just to get something on the table, but it turned out too good not to share it.

We used leftover fire-braised chicken thighs but you can substitute the meat from a rotisserie chicken instead. I'll explain the fire braising process after the recipe if you are interested in that.  But this chicken is creamy, delicious, and straight up comfort food.

Creamy chicken and penne casserole recipe for quick weeknights using leftovers.

Creamy Chicken and Penne


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 cups fire-braised chicken
  • 1/2 cup smoked Alpine white cheddar or other cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced green onion
  • 12 ounces dry penne, cooked according to directions


  1. Preheat your kamado grill set up for indirect heat or oven to 350°f
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and sauté the onion for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the other 4 tablespoons of butter and melt them.  Whisk in the flour until blended and cook for 1 minute to form a light roux.
  4. Slowly pour in the stock while continuously whisking until it is blended.
  5. Bring this mixture to a simmer and stir in the cream, salt, garlic salt, and white pepper. 
  6. Whisk in the cheese until melted and then taste for seasoning.  Adjust with more salt or pepper as desired.
  7. Add cooked pasta and chicken to the pan and toss to mix it all together.  
  8. Pour into a greased 2.5-quart casserole dish.  Top that evenly with the panko breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake at 350°f until bubbly, and the breadcrumbs are golden brown about 50-60 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle finely chopped green onion and serve.

The idea for this started, oddly enough, with these street tacos that we bought for lunch from an unnamed food truck.  I'm not withholding the info....the truck literally doesn't have a name.  It is just parked out in front of a small Mexican grocer.

They were so good that I wanted more than night.   So I fire braised boneless skinless chicken thighs to make my own tacos.

How To Make Fire Braised Chicken

  1. To make the chicken, I seasoned it with our Ba'Cock Chicken Seasoning and grilled just 3 minutes a side over scorching heat.  Just long enough to get some browning on each side.
  2. Then I put them in a half steam pan with some homemade veggie stock, covered them and let them braise until finished.  This took about 10 more minutes on the grill to get them to an internal temperature of 180°f.
  3. After they cooled a bit, we shredded the thighs with a pair of forks and put the chunks back into the remaining stock.  
Chicken this way is excellent for multi-purpose use in tacos, sandwiches, casseroles, and soups.  It reheats very well with the extra juices.  We often make several batches at once and then vacuum seal the meat in 2 to 3 cup portions for freezing.  Then to reheat, I just put the frozen pack in boiling water for 5 minutes and it's ready to go.  

Best thing ever on a weeknight when you need something quick and easy.