This is a freezer meal and it really does make a lot of pasta, but with the pasta loving family that I have, it's a good thing, plus it's nice to have an extra casserole on hand for busy days.
This recipe is adapted from Our Best Bites.
- 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
- salt and black pepper
- 1 pound penne rigate
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each), halved horizontally
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 6 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
- 1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 6 ounces)
Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. If you’re going to freeze one, use a disposable foil pan. (I didn't use a disposable because I cooked both casseroles and then divided the extra one into smaller portions in tupperware bowls for individual servings) In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta and set aside.
While pasta is boiling, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot (I used my big skillet where I cooked the chicken), melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking constantly, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer. Keep whisking frequently as sauce thickens, about 1 minute more. Sprinkle in some nutmeg (I love using nutmeg in white sauces)
Take the pan off the heat and and gradually stir in shredded cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes.
If freezing, place remaining parmesan cheese in a zip-top baggie. If cooking, sprinkle on top.
Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
To freeze, prepare through step 4 and then let pasta cool. Cover pan well with plastic wrap. Place extra cheese in baggie (for topping) on top and then cover entire pan well with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To bake, preheat oven to 400. Remove foil and plastic from pan and set cheese baggie aside. Place foil back on pan and bake for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil, stir pasta, and top with cheese. Return pan to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly throughout.