Holy casserole, Batman!
I have had this recipe tagged to try out for years. For one reason or another, it never came to fruition. I have a slight aversion to canned cream of "...(insert flavor here)" soup. Not the taste of it mind you; but the fact that it is soooo not healthful and soooo over-processed. I guess you could say that I am an outward cream of "..." soup snob, but I secretly kinda like it. I know that probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but sometimes I am a complicated person.
Anyway, I finally got around to making this recipe for last night's dinner. I had my first PTO meeting at my son's new school,so I prepped and baked everything before the meeting. I gave the hubs some final cooking instructions and asked him to 'pretty please with sugar on top' feed the kids and save me a plate for after my meeting. I then left the house while our dinner was still in the oven.
When I came home after the meeting, I asked how dinner was and got a strange response. The husband told me I would have to try it and formulate my own opinion. That made me nervous. I basically thought he was trying to politely tell me that I poisoned my family with this recipe. Thankfully, my assumption was wrong. I took a couple bites and instantly fell in love. After seeing me swoon, the husband reported that the kids all had seconds. My eldest baby daughter literally and cried for more! He also had two big portions and said it was the best casserole that we have had in awhile. Wow! A ringing endorsement by all...that hardly ever happens!!! I am so happy I finally tried this dish. My family has already requested that it be put into frequent meal rotation. Score!
From: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl cookbook By: Ree Drummond
2 cups Cooked Chicken
3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup Finely Diced Green Pepper
1/4 cup Finely Diced Onion
1 jar (4 Ounce) Diced Pimentos, Drained
2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1/8 teaspoon (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Cook 1 cut up fryer and pick out the meat to make two cups. Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup sharp cheddar.
Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).
For my chicken, I used 4 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and 1 chicken leg and boiled them according to the directions. I think this is the key to this recipe...the chicken AND the chicken broth/pasta water that is from the pot. DON'T SKIP THIS STEP! I know it's tempting to shortcut this method, but I really think it made the difference from turning this recipe into a "good" casserole into a "delicious" casserole. Aside from which chicken parts I used, I followed this recipe as-is and we all loved it. PW knows how to deliver a fantastic dinner, that's for sure.