The name of this recipe says it all. Cheesy. Bacon. Alfredo. Oh and some pasta and chicken to round it out. This cheesy chicken and bacon alfredo casserole is a comfortable winter classic that is sure to please and become a family favorite!
So my boys went up north this weekend for some male bonding time. (Up north in Michigan means anything above the middle of the palm and/or the U.P. That’s Upper Peninsula if you’re not from around here.)
While the boys are away, I play!
Pasta, Pasta and More Pasta
Mr. Alexander doesn’t care for pasta–why, I don’t know. I think there’s something wrong with him. Which is why, whenever I have a weekend alone, I make all. the. pasta.
This weekend it was chicken scampi over noodles (which will be on the blog shortly and I shall link to it) and this AMAZING cheesy chicken and bacon alfredo casserole.
Did I eat the whole thing myself? No. Only about half. I’m sure someone is going to have to roll me out the door on Monday so I can get to work. But I’m taking the leftovers for lunch, so they’ll just have to roll me back into my house again!
But I have Biscuit’s Two Thumbs Up and and a ringing endorsement: “Wow. This is really good. You should put this on the blog.” Of course, he was eating it leftover, so he added “I bet this was really good the first time around.”
Thanks, dear child. Thanks.
For the record, it heats up fantastic for leftovers!
Make Ahead Instructions
Are you a Sunday food-prepper?
The beauty of recipes like this cheesy chicken and bacon casserole is that you can prep most of the ingredients in advance.
The chicken can be diced and sautéed in advance, as can the bacon. Noodles, of course, can be boiled days in advance. All three can be refrigerated for a couple of days before you make the casserole.
I haven’t attempted to assemble the casserole and refrigerate it for a few days, but I suppose you could. I just haven’t tried it. If I do, I’ll let you know!
Homemade Alfredo Sauce
It’s not as hard as you think. I swear.
You start with a roux. I don’t have a picture of mine for this recipe, but you can see them here.
A good roux is basically butter and flour, and the basis for everything delicious. You can use other fats such as bacon drippings, but I prefer butter.
The word roux is French and thus, is common in French cuisine as well as Cajun cuisine. A roux is equal parts fat and flour mixed together until the flour is cooked slightly. It thickens whatever sauce or gravy you’re making.
In this case, it was half and half and chicken broth, plus a bit of garlic, stone ground mustard, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Maybe 10-15 minutes.
Yes, you really want to wait that long. And yes, you want to stir or whisk frequently so the mixture doesn’t burn.
Trust me, it will be worth it.
And then there’s cheese.
What is better than noodles, bacon, and cheese?
For this recipe, I used 1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1/2 cup of grated Gruyère cheese, and 1 cup of plain old shredded mozz you buy in a bag.
I usually have parm-reg on hand because I make mushroom risotto frequently, and also like to grate it over various dishes. (Have I mentioned how much I love my Microplane? Oh, I think I have. Here, if not other places.)
Mix all that chicken, bacon and cheese!
All the goodies get mixed together to bring all the yumminess into one place.
And oh, yes, it’s yummy. Even left over, according to Biscuit.
You do want to layer the goodies in the pan. Get thyself a large casserole dish, at least 2 quarts. You could also use a 9 x 13 or 10 x 4 glass baking dish.
If you want to play it safe, you could grease the baking dish with butter or spray with Pam, but I’ve found you don’t need to. You know, because I like to live on the wild side.
Noodle mixture, then sprinkle with half the mozz. The rest of the noodle mixture and the rest of the mozz.
The pièce de résistance, however, is the panko mixed with butter. Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb that is crunchy beyond compare. You shall be seeing panko quite a bit on this site, so stay tuned.
Then It’s Off To Bake
Why is this creamy, cheesy, bacon and chicken alfredo bake so good?
If you assemble it in advance, the cook time is so short. 15 minutes, and the last 1-2 minutes can be a quick broil to brown the top. That’s it. Voila.
Cheesy, bacony, chickeny goodness. All in one place.
Spork it up, my dears!
Chicken and Bacon Pasta Casserole
- 8 oz cavatappi noodles
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cubed
- 4 slices thick cut bacon diced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 6 tbsp butter divided
- Kosher salt to taste
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 4 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp stone ground mustard
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese finely grated
- 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese finely grated
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1/8 cup Panko crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta to al dente according to directions. Drain and rinse with cold water immediately to stop cooking and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook bacon and chicken. For chicken, heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp butter on medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Once butter is melted, swirl the pan to spread fats and add chicken in a single layer. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5-7 minutes until cooked through, turning half-way through. (If needed, cook in batches.) Remove from heat and set aside. For bacon, fry diced bacon on medium low heat until crisp. Drain and set aside.
- Wipe skillet clean and replace on heat. Add 4 tbsp butter on medium heat and allow to melt. Add 1 tbsp garlic and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. Add flour and whisk constantly to incorporate until flour has taken on a golden color, approximately 2 minutes.
- Whisk in 2 cups half and half and 1 cup chicken broth. Allow to come to a boil (increasing heat slightly if necessary), then reduce heat to medium low. Add stone ground mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, whisking occasionally, until alfredo sauce coats the back of a spoon. Taste and reseason if necessary. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, mix cavatappi noodles, chicken, bacon, alfredo sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Gruyère cheese until incorporated. Layer half of the mixture into a 2.5 to 3 qt casserole dish, or a 9 x 13 greased glass baking dish. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella. Layer the remaining noodle mixture and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
- Melt 1 tbsp butter and mix with 1/8 cup panko crumbs. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake 15 minutes or until heated through. To create a golden top, broil for 2 extra minutes.