I both love and hate going out for Italian food. There are dozens of restaurants with wimpy pasta dishes smothered in weak sauce. Last time I made one of my favorite pasta dishes, Rosemary Chicken, it occurred to me that I already had the bones of a fantastic white sauce recipe. With a little tweaking, it could be The Most Amazing Pasta In The World–or, Pasta Fantastico.
My friends, I have had this dish for about 5 meals in a row (meal-sized leftovers for one person tend to last quite a while) and I am still not sick of the stuff! I will admit, up front, that this dish will dirty three different pans–but it will be one of the more amazing things you have ever cooked. I think you could easily barter chef responsibilities for dishwasher responsibilities and everyone will be happy; Pasta Fantastico is just that good.
Bring salted water to boil and cook 12 oz. fettuccine or penne al dente, drain.
8 pieces center-cut bacon, cooked & crumbled.
1 large chicken breast, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 5 cloves)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
large handful mushrooms, diced
2 sections of green bell pepper, diced
about 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (or red bell pepper, if you hate tomatoes)
2 teaspoons salt
ground pepper to taste (I use an inordinate amount of ground pepper, because I heart it)
2-3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced (dried would probably be fine too, maybe 2-3 teaspoons. I have a rosemary plant on my kitchen table that needs to be pruned every so often, so I’d just as soon use fresh.)
Cook the bacon until crispy, set aside on paper towel to cool.
Saute chicken, onion, garlic and mushrooms in bacon fat, add bell pepper, tomatoes, salt, pepper, lemon pepper and rosemary. Turn down heat.
Now you need to make the white sauce–don’t forget to check on your noodles, they should be getting close to done.
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt
ground pepper to taste
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
6-8 ounces shredded Romano cheese
Melt the butter in a medium sauce-pan over high heat. Add flour, salt and pepper and make a roux (which is French for “stir until it’s goopy”). Add the half-and-half and milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, add the cheese and stir until it melts. Now you need to dump the white sauce into the chicken mixture and crumble the bacon over the top. Stir to combine.
Serve over hot pasta, garnish with Romano cheese.