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So tonight’s dinner is a joint effort between Val and myself. It’s also a follow on from Sunday’s roast chicken lunch which left us with a lot of chicken. Buying a nicer chicken is really worth it and getting a slightly larger one means you can end up making another meal out of it.

Now I have a confession … I .. I …. I don’t really like taking the chicken meat off the chicken. So it’s Val to the rescue 🙂 My other confession is … until I actually got around to making my first pasta bake they kind of terrified me. Since then I don’t make them that often but it’s a lot easier. Pre-cooking the ingredients means you won’t burn things as well.

Left over chicken

We’re going to making another relatively simple dish tonight though it’s probably going to take around 30 – 40 minutes to make. (20 minutes of prep and 20 minutes of further cooking)

It requires a few basic ingredients:

Broccoli ( Frozen as always with me for this type of meal there’s no added benefit to fresh )
Chicken (Well Val is taking care of that)
Penne pasta … it’s large enough and gets some of the sauce into it and can also crisp up nicely
Bacon ( of some kind … I’m using some poitrine .. I could use lardons / bacon bits )
Small bit of white flour ( 25 – 35 grammes)
Mushrooms (These are kinda optional .. I love a chicken and mushroom pie .. the kids probably won’t eat that though)

Get your pasta cooking. For the four of us we want around 200 grammes and we’ll probably have a bit left over

200 grammes of penne pasta

We’ll also want around 300 – 400 grammes of broccoli.

Frozen Broccoli

They’ll both take around 8 minutes to cook, you can do them a bit al dente if you like as it’ll cook further in the oven.

Strip the carcass of your chicken. It’s insane the amount of meat left on the bird (Assuming you’ve not been greedy piggies the night before)

Shredded Chicken

We’ve also got enough left over, and we’re keeping the good white meat, to freeze for another day.

Leftover frozen chicken

Your 8 euro chicken is going to go a long way 🙂

Now might be a good time to preheat your oven to 180C.

You’ll want to get your bacon ready … bacon in France is a strange beast so we do what we can. This is poitrine but it works well and it’s smoked as well which works even better.

Smokey Bacon

This is a 100 grammes pack and we’re not even going to use the whole lot ( You can if you want ) We opted for about half and you chop it up into small pieces.

Chopped Bacon

Throw it on a heated frying pan and add a sprinkle if oil if there isn’t enough fat to help fry it.

Fried Bacon

Quarter your mushrooms as well and throw them in with the bacon for a few minutes.

Quartered Mushrooms

You’re now going to make a bechamel sauce … this was rather terrifying when I first made it. Add milk (300 – 400ml) to a pot … bring it close to boiling and add in some flour (25 grammes) and keep on whisking it. Just sprinkle it in slowly … reduce the heat … and you’ll hopefully see it thickening up a bit. Add more milk or more flour depending on what’s happening. At this stage hopefully everything is ready. The oven is hot enough ( even if it isn’t it’ll be grand )

Every thing is ready

Put your drained pasta / brocolli / mushroom and bacon mix into a large enough oven tray with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.

Pasta bake without the bechamel

Add in your bechamel sauce as well and stir it all around. Break up the broccoli if it’s too big, you want to spread it around in the dish.

Throw in the bechamel

Stir it around and sprinkle on some grated cheese .. ( make cheese grate again ). More black pepper too.

Unbaked pasta bake

Into the oven for 15 – 20 minutes and hey presto

Cooked broccoli and chicken pasta bake

Serve … (with more Black pepper for me please )

Dinner is served

Let me know in the comments below if you make this and how it turns out. ( Most annoying closing statement ever or what? 😀 )