Wednesday, August 14, 2013

White Cheddar Chicken Alfredo in a Bread Bowl

My kids have been big fans of the "pasta in a bread bowl" concept ever since a popular pizza chain started making something similar.  Wow - talk about culinary sins?!  Carbs on top of carbs!  But you know what?  Sometimes life calls for that.  And when you have growing, bottomless pit teenagers, they sure aren't worried about counting carbs!

So consider this a "fun" recipe.  Not that you would want to eat this all the time, but occasionally won't kill you!

I'm gonna walk you through this step-by-step of how I did this, but there are SO many different variations of how you could do this...  so do what works for you according to your comfort level, your time considerations, your culinary preferences, etc. 


Ingredients:  (4 - 6 servings)
  • 1/2 pound penne or rigatoni pasta
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 chopped shallots (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (maybe a bit more in the end)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, julienned 
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, freshly shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly shredded
  • 3/4 cup white cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • black pepper to taste
  • 6 - 8 ounces cooked chicken breast strips
  • prepared pizza dough 
    • plus flour to roll it out if needed
    • plus corn meal to prevent sticking on pan or pizza stone
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella 
Variations - 
Pizza dough - feel free to use what you are comfortable with.  There are prepared pizza dough available in the cold section of your grocers (near the canned biscuits).   Some pizza restaurants will sell you the dough only.  Or you could make you own if you choose.  Here is my recipe for Home Made Pizza Dough.  

Chicken - I used the Tyson Grilled and Ready fully cooked chicken strips.  They are sold in a 6 oz bag usually between the deli meats and the raw chicken areas.  You could also use leftover chicken or even a rotisserie chicken. 

Alfredo sauce - This one is super easy to make, but if you are really short on time, you could use a jarred alfredo sauce.  Just heat and mix in the cheeses for that extra pop of flavor.  

So now let's do this! 

Step-by-Step:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with your pizza stone in it.  If you do not have a pizza stone, you may need to cook these longer, as you will be starting out on a cold pan.  The hot pizza stone gives you a nice crunchy crust.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add in the pasta and some salt and cook according about a minute less than package directions.  Since we'll be cooking it longer after it gets mixed in the sauce.  Drain the noodles and rinse well in cold water.  We want to stop the cooking process and also rinse off the starch so it won't stick together into a big lump!  HaHa!  Then just set aside.
1/2 pound rigatoni pasta
I actually made a whole pound of pasta, but only used half.  I thought I would use it later with a different recipe.  But with a 16 year old, the other half pound magically disappeared from the fridge!


Heat the butter in a fairly large skillet over medium heat. 
2 Tbsp butter
Add the shallots and garlic.  Cook until they are soft and fragrant.  
2 chopped shallots (about 1/4 cup)
2 Tbsp freshly chopped garlic
Tip - To make my dinner come together a little faster, I chopped the shallots and garlic ahead of time.  I also shredded my cheeses.  I had all of these things covered and stored in the fridge, ready to go!

Add in the salt and flour and stir well to make a paste.
1/4 tsp table salt
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Add the milk, stir to combine, and cook until it starts bubbling.  As you can see, this is just a simple bechamel sauce.
2 cups milk (maybe a bit more in the end)
Let's get it seasoned up now!
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil

I love the tanginess of the sun dried tomatoes and the pop of color.  (Kids like colorful food.)  But really, you could add just about anything in here that you would enjoy in your pasta. 
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, julienned 
So it should be starting to bubble by now.
Now lets add in the cheeses.....
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, freshly shredded
1/4 cup Parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly shredded
3/4 cup white cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
Tip - Okay.  So here's my deal with the "freshly shredded" cheeses.  I prefer to buy a block of cheese and grate it myself for several reasons.  If you buy cheeses that are preshredded (in the bag), they usually have additives (one or more inert powders, such as processed cellulose) to prevent the individual shreds from sticking to each other, as well as added antifungal agents.  I probably don't have to point out that they are certainly not as cost effective for those on a budget.  Also - preshredding them increases the surface area exponentially, so they dry out and start oxidizing.... and losing flavor!  I do still use the preshredded cheeses on occasion, such as when I'm pressed for time.  But given my preference, the stuff you do yourself melts better and tastes better!!

We are looking for it to begin bubbling up and thickening.  And oh my... I have a feeling that this would be good on a flip flop!!
Add in the drained pasta.  
I added a little more milk at the end (didn't measure).  I wanted the sauce to be a little bit soupy since it will tighten up in the oven, and also the dough will absorb some of it.
See how silky the sauce looks?

All ready for the chicken to go in now.  We don't want to "cook" the chicken.  It's already cooked.  We just want it warmed through.   So we are adding it in right at the end.
6 - 8 ounces cooked chicken breast strips
One more little adjustment here....  
If I was making this for only grown ups, I would add some red pepper flakes that you find in pizza parlors.  They would be great in this!
black pepper to taste
I had more of the chicken Alfredo here than would fit in the 4 bread bowls.  I knew that my little two would prefer it NOT in the bread bowl.  I just wanted to give you a heads up that you would either have extra pasta, or would need more dough. 

For the bread bowls, I used the premade pizza dough.  I cut each one into 2 - 3 pieces, rolled into a ball, rolled them out, and made a little pizza crust out of each.... leaving the edges about an inch higher than the middle.  Thin middle!   I seasoned them up with Italian seasoning.
Italian seasoning to taste
You want to OVERfill the bowl, about 2 inches higher than the edge of the dough.   The bread will bake up around it.  
Tip - Notice I have sprinkled the pizza peel with yellow cornmeal.  This will help the dough slide off of the peel and onto the hot pizza stone.  Next time you go to to a restaurant known for their brick oven pizzas, check out the bottom of the dough and you'll likely see cornmeal just like this!
Sprinkle a little mozzarella over each, then pop them into the oven.
1 cup shredded mozzarella - divided equally
Since I'm using a very hot pizza stone, I baked these for only around 10 - 12 minutes.   If you are starting with a cold pan, you'll probably need to bake them longer.

Now just take a look at these babies!!!!  I have garnished the hot pizza bowls with some fresh basil.

Now just dig in!!
Wow!!!
What do you think?  I so hope you approve.  Definitely teenager-friendly!!  The only critique from my teens was that the pizza dough could have been seasoned more.  (I used a premade dough for this.  Usually I make my own and puts lots of herbs and seasonings IN the dough.)  A garlic butter brushed over the edge of the dough when it came out was another suggestion that sounds like a real winner with this!!  Gosh - don't I have smart, savy kids?!

If you are intrigued by what else I have up my sleeve, hop on over to my Recipe Index for tons of other ideas that you can cook with/for your family.  And if you are new to MenuMusings, by all means, Click here to Subscribe so you won't miss a thing!

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Now, as always, here are a few "bonus recipes" for you.  Click the links to go directly to them:




Fruit Pizza
Written Method:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with your pizza stone in it.  If you do not have a pizza stone, you may need to cook these longer, as you will be starting out on a cold pan.  The hot pizza stone gives you a nice crunchy crust.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add in the pasta and some salt and cook according about a minute less than package directions.  Since we'll be cooking it longer after it gets mixed in the sauce.  Drain the noodles and rinse well in cold water.  We want to stop the cooking process and also rinse off the starch so it won't stick together into a big lump!  HaHa!  Then just set aside.

Heat the butter in a fairly large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and garlic.  Cook until they are soft and fragrant.  Tip - To make my dinner come together a little faster, I chopped the shallots and garlic ahead of time.  I also shredded my cheeses.  I had all of these things covered and stored in the fridge, ready to go!

Add in the salt and flour and stir well to make a paste.  Add the milk, stir to combine, and cook until it starts bubbling.  Let's get it seasoned up now!  Add in the oregano, basil, and sun dried tomatoes.
I love the tanginess of the sun dried tomatoes and the pop of color.  (Kids like colorful food.)  But really, you could add just about anything in here that you would enjoy in your pasta. 

So it should be starting to bubble by now.  Now lets add in the cheeses..... Gruyere, Parmesan, and white cheddar.  We are looking for it to begin bubbling up and thickening. 

Add in the drained pasta.  

I added a little more milk at the end (didn't measure).  I wanted the sauce to be a little bit soupy since it will tighten up in the oven, and also the dough will absorb some of it.

All ready for the chicken to go in now.  We don't want to "cook" the chicken.  It's already cooked.  We just want it warmed through.   So we are adding it in right at the end.

One more little adjustment here....  add in the black pepper.  If I was making this for only grown ups, I would add some red pepper flakes that you find in pizza parlors.  They would be great in this!

I had more of the chicken Alfredo here than would fit in the 4 bread bowls.  I knew that my little two would prefer it NOT in the bread bowl.  I just wanted to give you a heads up that you would either have extra pasta, or would need more dough.  I seasoned the dough with freshly ground Italian seasoning.

You want to OVERfill the bowl, about 2 inches higher than the edge of the dough.   The bread will bake up around it.  Tip - Notice I have sprinkled the pizza peel with yellow cornmeal.  This will help the dough slide off of the peel and onto the hot pizza stone.  Next time you go to to a restaurant known for their brick oven pizzas, check out the bottom of the dough and you'll likely see cornmeal just like this!   Sprinkle a little mozzarella over each, then pop them into the oven.

Since I'm using a very hot pizza stone, I baked these for only around 10 - 12 minutes.   If you are starting with a cold pan, you'll probably need to bake them longer.  Garnished the hot pizza bowls with some fresh basil.

6 comments:

  1. Great recipe. And awesome website. This is site is going on my bookmark menu bar so it's handy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I'm so flattered to be bookmarked!! I hope that I'll be able to call you by name next time. :)
      And please share the blog with your friends and family. Thanks - Julie

      Delete
  2. This looks incredible! I'm still not convinced by the carbs-on-carbs thing (unfortunately my metabolism isn't too forgiving!) but I could totally manage the pasta on its own, looks gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Becca - I hear ya! The metabolism of a 14 and 16 year old don't even begin to compare to that of ... um... us parent types. Sometimes I do low carb and really healthy and they have to suck it up; but sometimes I do things that are really all about them and I know they'll flip over it. But yes, the pasta is totally doable on its own. Thanks! Hope you'll give it a try.

      Delete
  3. The pasta you used is penne...not rigatoni..

    ReplyDelete

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