Chicken and bacon pasta bake
A simple white sauce makes this chicken and bacon pasta bake a doddle for weeknights. If you’ve never made a classic roux or béchamel sauce before, this is a great recipe to show you how. Stirring flour and milk into a pan full of buttery leeks makes lumps in the final sauce a lot less likely, so you will end up with a gorgeous creamy sauce.
Each serving provides 1026 kcal, 76g protein, 76g carbohydrates (of which 9g sugars), 45g fat (of which 24g saturates), 7g fibre and 2.5g salt.
- 500g/1lb 2oz leftover cooked chicken or chicken breasts, skin removed
- 500–600ml/18–20fl oz chicken stock
- 50g/1¾oz butter
- 6–8 rashers streaky bacon, cut into 2cm/¾in strips
- 1–2 large leeks, thickly sliced
- 50g/1¾oz plain flour
- 1 tsp English mustard powder
- 500ml/18fl oz milk
- 150g/5½oz mature cheddar, grated
- 325g/11½oz pasta shapes, like farfalle or penne
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
If you are using leftover cooked chicken, skip this step and add the chicken in step 3. If you are using chicken breasts, put the breasts in the base of a saucepan to fit snugly in a single layer. Pour over 600ml/20fl oz chicken stock and place over a low–medium heat. When the stock just comes to a simmer, turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Check the chicken breasts after 10 minutes, they should be cooked. Set aside and reserve the stock.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the bacon and fry until it is beginning to get crispy. Use a slotted spoon to lift the bacon out, leaving the butter behind. Add the leeks and fry for 5–6 minutes until softened.
Stir the flour and mustard powder into the leeks and keep cooking together for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk, followed by 500ml/18fl oz chicken stock and stir to create a smooth sauce. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and once bubbling cook for 1 minute to thicken. Tear or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Turn off the heat and stir two-thirds of the cheese, most of the bacon and all of the chicken into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions (about 9 minutes) or until al dente, as it will cook more in the oven. Drain thoroughly then combine with the sauce in a large baking dish. Scatter the remaining cheddar, bacon bits and Parmesan over the top.
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7. Bake for 15 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling.
You can make the pasta bake ahead and bake from cold for 20–30 minutes.