Chicken and Pasta Bake plus MORELS

I like to experiment. Sometimes i’m pleased with the results, other times, well – i don’t post them. This dish turned out darned tootin tasty, and i thought it worth sharing.

When you search google for ‘chicken pasta bake’ you almost always come up with recipes that utilize cut up chicken breast verses parted up whole chicken. I buy my chickens whole and i like to cook them as 2 breasts and 2 thighs. I went out on a limb and “went for it” piecing together a few temps and times online and monitored with my meat thermometer until i was satisfied with the results. Here’s what i came up with:

Whole (quartered) Chicken Pasta Bake

  • 1 whole chicken, breasts and thighs removed with the back and neck reserved for Pocket (or for stock making)
  • 1 leek
  • 1 fist full dried spaghetti
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (this would have been SO much better with home canned tomato sauce, but i am out and used Trader Joe’s organic instead)
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • Salt, pepper, cayenne

Bring a pot of salted water to boil while preheating oven to 350. Cook 2-4 servings of spaghetti to al dente while quartering the chicken. Place chopped leek (or regular onion) in the bottom of a well seasoned cast iron pan (or pyrex baking dish coated in a little oil). Once cooked, spread an even layer of pasta over the leeks, season with salt and pepper, place chicken parts evenly over pasta, season again and top it all with the jar of pasta sauce. No need to cover, the sauce will insulate the dish fairly well. Cook for about an hour, or until ALL pieces of meat read at least 165 with your meat thermometer. Double check the thighs.

*** As a bonus! We scored some morel mushrooms from The Mushroomery at this week’s farmer’s market in Corvallis, and stuffed them with Alsea Acres garlic chives Fromage Blanc. I put them in a smaller cast iron pan into the oven with the main course and cooked about 20 minutes for some tasty side bites of glory. These were my very first morels, and i think i’m addicted. I sure hope to grow or forage some in the upcoming months and years.

We definitely shared in some fist pumps over this meal, though i really shouldn’t be eating ANY sort of pasta while i’m still technically dieting. Salad for dinner, tonight! (Topped with shredded thigh meat from this chicken bake). It’s hard to describe what the morels tasted like, especially since their flavor was heavily influenced by the delicious cheese stuffed inside of them (who knew they were hollow and stuffable???). I’m pretty sure i could say they tasted like “forest floor,” which sounds like a cop out, but totally fits their flavor. I’m excited to try them again, and am glad i have a wonderful, local, sustainable source for them. I DO hope we can forage our own soon, however.

How about you? Ever tried morels? If you haven’t, are you curious? If you have, how would you describe them??

This recipe can be found on the Simple Lives Thursday blog hop.

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Filed under Baked, Cast Iron, Chicken, Cooking, Dinner, Eating

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