Due to the way I grew up eating, I am preprogrammed to think cream sauce = fancy. This is because we do not make things with cream sauces in my house. So when I first started reading Pioneer Woman, I was like, “Shit! Cream sauce is totally a thing I can make! I can feel fancy all the time!” As it turns out, the recipe I am about to share with you is the least fancy thing in the world. It is, at its most basic level, a two-step process. But it knocks it out of the park every time. You should make this the next time you want someone to think you can cook fancy. And credit where credit is due, it is based loosely on PW’s Pasta with Bacon and Mushrooms.
So here’s what you’ll need.
1 lb. pasta. I like rigatoni or rotini.
1 – 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts depending on how many you’re feeding and how big your chunks are.
3 slices very fatty bacon
3 – 5 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken broth (I like any kind of organic, but I’m a crunchy hippie who wants to take away your guns)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Scallions/green onions OR chives, to taste. One – two scallions or the equivalent amount of chives should do it.
Pecorino romano cheese
Before we start, fair warning: this recipe takes a little time if you wanna get it right. I would budget at least an hour, more like an hour and a quarter. It’s not super long or at all difficult, but you wanna get it right, and that means cooking stuff on medium and letting it take its time.
Start with the bacon. Chop your fatty slices into small pieces and throw them in the bottom of a deep-ish frying pan or sauce pan. (We are pretty loose with what pan or pot does what at my house.) Cook those little pieces on medium-high until all the fat is rendered (this means until all the fat is cooked out, and you’ll know that happens when pieces stop sizzling). Do not, under any circumstances, try to cook them just a little longer to get them just a little crispier because you will burn your bacon and have to start over. This is not fun. Skip this step. Once your bacon is done, remove it with a slotted spoon to a bowl, leaving lots of grease in the pan.
If you used fatty enough bacon, you should be able to transfer your chicken chunks directly to the pan without adding any olive oil, but if you need to add a little, do it. Your chicken chunks should be of a reasonable size to mix into pasta, whatever. In any case cook your chicken in the bacon fat for about 2 – 3 minutes, then add your garlic. After about a minute, add your chicken broth. What we’re basically doing now is poaching the chicken and garlic in chicken broth, and this is – basically – Step 1 of the two-step process. This will take ten-ish minutes until your chicken pieces are cooked through.
Once your chicken is cooked through, turn the heat to medium low – this is basically Step 2 of the two-step process – and add the cream, the cooked bacon bits, the scallions/chives (1 – 2 scallions chopped well or the equivalent amount of chopped chives), the parsley – I chop what looks like enough parsley, this means that I take a standard bunch of parsley from the market, chop off about a half inch to an inch of the leafy part, look at how much I’ve got and decide if it’s enough, and it probably is – the coarse-ground black pepper, maybe a pinch of kosher salt, and I grate in some pecorino romano. Then stir well and let it cook for a few minutes (2 – 3) AND NOW YOU TASTE IT. This recipe is so much about taste. Figure out what it needs. I usually grate in a shit-ton of pecorino romano at this point, because it is going to want to be saltier but not by adding more salt. Once you’ve added the cream, don’t cook it for more than five more minutes on low; it’ll thicken to a point you don’t want. This sauce is actually pretty thin, but it’s fucking delicious, and I don’t like it thicker. If you want it thicker cook it longer, but this is my recipe and my pasta and I say stop it before it thickens.
While you were making the sauce you were making the macaroni. So now put your sauce over your macaroni and stir stir stir! I know the fancy people say you put the macaroni in the sauce and finish it that way, but whatever man, I am not a fancy person, I am just pretending to cook fancy pasta. So I put the sauce over the pasta. Then I eat that shit.
This will get you laid. The end.