Weird fact about me: I love cheese, I like broccoli (notice I didn't say love), but I do NOT generally like cheesy broccoli. Broccoli cheddar soup? Gag me. Broccoli with cheese sauce? Blech. So why then did I make this dinner, you ask yourself? Well... because I trust Cassie and when she posted on Facebook the other night about how she made this and she and her family loved it I just knew I had to give it a go. I liked how the pictures in the original post (linked below) weren't too gloppy... and something about the process just seemed so delicious to me. I immediately added it to my menu and was so excited to try it.
Now comes the confession part: I didn't read the recipe. Not carefully. I mean, I looked at the ingredients to make a food shopping list, but I didn't read the steps. So it was 7:00 on a weeknight, we eat at 7:30, and I wandered into the kitchen thinking, "Pasta skillets are easy... this will be a fast meal." No... no my friends... it wasn't fast. It wasn't hard, it was a super simple meal, but there were many steps that each took 10-15 minutes each, making this closer to 45 minutes. I was starving at almost 8:00 when we finally got around to eating it, and this starvation led to me not allowing it to sit too much to thicken, but truth be told I liked it better this way! The pictures show you that my sauce wasn't too thick, it was not the consistency of macaroni and cheese but much lighter, and we loved it that way! The leftovers thickened up more and John did enjoy it, but I think my "error" will be the way I make it again in the future because I liked the smoothness that the thinner sauce offered.
Quite frankly... I'm not a broccoli cheese convert (yet...) but I DID love this. Like, super loved. Like, will make it again... possibly next week loved. Yup... there, I said it... I liked a meal with broccoli and cheese together. A lot.
Source: Center Cut Cook
3/4-1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks seasoned with a bit of salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake (omit if you don’t want the spice)
8 ounces pasta of choice
1 and 2/3 cup chicken stock
2 and 3/4 cups water, divided
8 ounces broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup light cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a very large non-stick skillet. Add the chicken chunks and cook until the chicken is browned on both sides, and almost entirely cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan, cover, and set aside.
2- Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Cook the onions for several minutes, until they start to turn translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Sprinkle in oregano and red pepper flake.
3- To the pan add in 1 and 2/3 cups chicken stock, and 2 cups water. Stir in the pasta and bring to a boil. Cook for 12-15 minutes until most of the pasta liquid is absorbed into the pasta.
4- Add in the broccoli, 3/4 cups water, and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.
5- Add in the cooked chicken, 1/2 cup light cream, cheddar cheese, and increase the heat to medium high. Continue stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens, about 5-10 minutes.
6- Sauce will thicken as it stands. Add in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or more if needed to taste.