Chicken Spaghetti is American comfort food at its best. This recipe removes the condensed soup and replaces it with a homemade sauce from cream and chicken stock. There are also tons of veggies in this version so this make-ahead casserole is a complete meal all by itself and a definite family favorite!
Course Main Course
Prep Time 40minutes
Cook Time 1hour
Resting Time 10minutes
Total Time 1hour40minutes
1lbboneless skinless chicken thighs
12ozmushrooms(8oz cremini + 4oz shitake)
1red bell pepper
5sprigs of thymeor 1 tsp minced
pinchfresh ground nutmeg*
2Cgrated colby jack cheese**
½Ccrispy jalapenos or onions (optional***)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare 9x13 or large round casserole dish with baking spray.
Prepare a baking sheet with foil. Season both sides of chicken thighs liberally with salt and pepper. If you're not a fan of dark meat chicken, you can substitute with chicken breasts. If using chicken breasts, drizzle with ½ tsp olive oil per side prior to seasoning. Bake 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Lower oven heat to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook to package instructions. Drain and pour into large mixing bowl. Coat with 1 tsp of olive oil to keep pasta from sticking together.
While pasta is cooking, wet a paper towel, ring out well and wipe mushrooms to remove any apparent dirt. You never want to rinse mushrooms under running water. They are like little sponges that will just absorb water which will prevent proper browning.
Heat a large saucepan with 2 Tb olive oil and 1 Tb of butter over medium-high heat until the oil begins to ripple. A ripple in the oil means it is getting close to smokin' hot.
Add mushrooms, stir to evenly coat in oil then leave undisturbed for 2-3 minutes until you smell nutty browning 'shrooms. Stir, spread out and again, leave undisturbed for 2-3 minutes. Leaving the mushrooms alone allows them to brown which is essential to their flavor. Browned mushrooms = delicious mushrooms.
Once browned, remove from heat and pour into bowl with pasta. Season with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. You never want to season mushrooms with salt prior to browning. If you do, the mushrooms will release their liquid and steam instead of sear.
While the mushrooms sear, dice poblano, red bell pepper, and onion into ¼ inch dice. Heat 1 Tb olive oil and 2 Tb butter in the same pan used for mushrooms over medium-high heat. No need to wipe clean. Once the oil is hot, add the diced peppers and onion. Stir to coat evenly in oil and leave undisturbed for 2-3 minutes.
Once veggies have softened, add 2 Tb of flour and stir continuously until flour starts to cook or about 2 minutes. You will know it's time to add the chicken stock when there is no visible flour in the pan.
Slowly add 2 C chicken stock and cream to butter and flour, scraping the bottom of the pan well to lift all flour and browned bits. That's where all the flavor is! Once you've added the stock, season with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and fresh nutmeg.
Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thick or about 5-7 minutes. Once the sauce has thickened, add any accumulated juices from the resting chicken and the sauce to prepared noodles and stir to combine well.
Dice cooled chicken into small bite-size pieces. Fold 1 C grated cheese and diced chicken into pasta and sauce. Mix well.
Pour the entire mix into a prepared casserole pan. STOP HERE IF YOU'RE PLANNING TO COOK AT A LATER TIME/DATE. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge if you're making the recipe ahead of time.
Melt 2 Tb butter in a microwave-safe small bowl. Combine with ½ C panko. Chop the crispy jalapenos/onions if you're using into a fine consistency similar to the panko. If you leave any large pieces, they will brown too quickly in the oven. Stir the finely chopped crumbs into panko. Top casserole with remaining 1 C grated cheese then panko mixture. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
* Fresh nutmeg has almost no comparison to ground nutmeg. I don't mind the pre-ground kind for baking, but for adding to a white sauce, there is nothing like freshly grated. You can find whole nutmeg with the other spices at the store. Keep it in the freezer to extend the shelf life to a couple of years. Use a fine Microplane to grate or checkout the link above to purchase the nifty storage container and grater that I have.** I always prefer to grate my cheese from the block instead of buying the stuff that's already grated for you. There's nothing wrong with the latter if you're in a hurry, but they apply a starch to the grated cheese so it doesn't clump during transit that changes the way it melts. When you grate it at home from the block, cheese is melty and ooey-gooey just like it should be.*** The crispy onions and jalapenos I mentioned here are French's or the same kind you add to the top of classic green bean casserole during the holidays. I think the jalapenos bring a little punch to the topping, but crispy onions would be equally good and a bit more kid-friendly. You can also make the topping out of just buttered panko if you'd prefer. Use 1 C of panko if you're not adding crispy jalapenos or onions.
Chicken Spaghetti from Scratch https://cookingandcussing.com/chicken-spaghetti/