Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Recipe For My Baked Grilled Chicken Caesar Pasta

on August 6, 2014

When I was in my twenties, going out to eat with the girls was so much fun. Having a cocktail and always ordering the Chicken Caesar Salad. I can remember having this dish for the first time. You know the cold Caesar salad with the warm grilled chicken on top. Oh, and the cheese, that cheese, so good! Now the chicken that you ordered for you salad came one of two ways, grilled, or blackened. I always chose the blackened, because I loved the spiciness of the chicken along side the cool creamy Caesar dressing. I thought how can I transform these flavors into a pasta dish. I started with the chicken. I want to remind the home cook that it’s really important that you get to know your butcher because they can answer any questions you may have like about the different cuts of meats or even grinding certain cuts up for you that they may not have available in the meat case. Let’s start out with the chicken.

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Here I seasoned 6 chicken breasts with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of blackened seasoning. Steve can’t handle his food too spicy so I went really easy with the blackened seasoning on the chicken. I seasoned both sides with the blackened seasoning, a sprinkling of Kosher salt and black pepper. I grilled the chicken for around 4 minutes on each side. I’m not worried that the chicken may not be completely cooked because it still has to bake. I don’t want the chicken to be dry before it goes into the oven to finish baking.

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Set the chicken breasts aside and let them cool down a bit so you can slice them on the bias before adding them to the other ingredients. Moving on, here is where I start the topping to my pasta bake. The crunchy topping is just as important as what’s on the inside. Let me tell you how i made the topping. First I took have 3/4 of a stick of unsalted butter and melted in into a large saute pan. Then I added 1-1/2 cups of Panko bread crumbs. These are those Japanese bread crumbs that are available in pretty much all grocery stores now.

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Stir the bread crumbs until they are all coated with the butter and just let them toast for a couple of minutes. You don’t want them too brown because they have to bake in the oven to finish browning.

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At this point the bread crumbs are done and I just add 2 tablespoons of dried parsley flakes for some color. I set the topping aside while I move on to the next step. Now I start with a large deep pot to make the base flavors for this dish.

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I start out with 1/2 a stick or 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter. To that I add 3 tablespoons of minced garlic and 2 tablespoons of anchovy paste and let those infuse with the butter on med heat. Now if you love Caesar dressing you know there are anchovies in it, so don’t let this freak you out. You will be surprised how well it works in this sauce. I add equal parts flour to butter, so that;s 4 tablespoons of flour and whisk that through until all the raw flour taste has cooked out.

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Now I slowly add the milk into the pot while still on med heat. Continually whisking the whole time. As the liquid comes up to a boil, you know then that it’s as thick as its going to get. I don’t want it to be super thick so after I see how thick the mixture is, I will determine if I need to add a bit more milk to it because, I want the mixture to have some body to it but not so thick that it won’t coat all the pasta and thicken even more in the baking process. Before I take this off the heat to add my cheese to this sauce, I stir in about 3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce.

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Moving forward to the thicken sauce I add 2 cups of grated Parmigiano- Reggiano  to this pot before adding in my cooked Penne pasta, approx. 1-1/2 boxes. This will give the cheese a chance to melt through the sauce and then coat all the pasta when I add it. Make sure your pasta is under cooked by a couple of minutes, remembering that it’s still going to continue cooking in the baking stage of the dish.

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Stir this all together then I add the sliced chicken in and stir that all through.

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In a buttered casserole dish I pour all the chicken Caesar pasta. Smoothing it out so it’s evenly distributed through the dish.

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I sprinkle the bread crumb topping on and add more of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. I dot the top with small pieces of butter all around. This will ensure a nice brown crust on the top. I spray a large piece of foil on the underside with non-stick cooking spray so nothing will stick, while it bakes in the oven at 375 for 35-40 minutes. Then uncover and bake until the top is golden brown.

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Make sure to let this rest for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it. This will give the dish time to set. I like to serve this dish with a light Romaine salad because of the richness to this “pasta bake”

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There you have it the best of two worlds in one dish, pasta and chicken Caesar.

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