Sep 8, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Chicken Spaghetti

I first tasted this dish when our church brought in food for our family; most likely it was after Mr. Official (I think that's what I'll call my husband from now on...) had surgery to repair a ruptured disk after slipping on a basketball.  (Sidenote to all parents whose athletic careers ended more than two decades ago:  be very careful when playing a pickup basketball game with your kids.  You're not as agile as they are, and all those hits you took during games and two-a-day practices took their toll on your skeletal structure.  Just sayin')

I have seen many recipes for King Ranch chicken that are very similar to this, but they typically use corn or flour tortillas instead of spaghetti noodles.  Me?  I'm not so keen on raw tortillas in my casseroles, so this recipe suits me to a "T" - which works out well, since this dish came courtesy of a friend named Tamara. 

Tamara J's Chicken Spaghetti

1 12-ounce package spaghetti noodles
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 can Rotel (tomatoes and chili peppers), undrained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 ounces chicken broth
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups cubed chicken (if I don't have diced cooked chicken on hand, I usually boil a few breasts, cool and dice into cubes; you can also used canned chicken in a pinch.)

Break spaghetti noodles into thirds and boil in salted water; cook to al dente, then drain and rinse with cool water.  Lightly grease a 2-3 quart casserole dish (I love my deep "French White" Pyrex casserole for this recipe.)

Saute onion and bell pepper until tender-crisp.  Add Rotel, mushroom soup and broth; stir well and let simmer for a few minutes until bubbling.  Remove from heat.

Layer half the noodles in the bottom of the greased dish; sprinkle half the chicken; pour half of the sauce and sprinkle with half the cheese.  Repeat with remaining noodles, chicken, sauce and cheese on top.  Cover and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, or until bubbling.  Remove cover and let bake another 5 minutes to lightly brown the top.  Makes 6-8 hearty servings.

This casserole is perfect for potlucks and it also reheats very well.  You can use mild, medium or hot Rotel, depending on your family's preferences; the choice will definitely influence the heat index of the dish.