We're going there.
You know those cold, winter nights where all you want is a bowl of comfort food? I'm going to suggest this pasta. Penne in a creamy, bacony, goat cheesy sauce with chicken and rosemary, all topped with shaved parmesan and crispy shredded Brussels sprouts.
The secret of the perfectly silky, creamy sauce? Reserved pasta water! If you're like me and forget to reserve pasta water when you need to, and then have a moment of oh no, what have I done??? the exact second you dump all of your pasta water down the drain, I'm going to suggest that you put a measuring cup inside your strainer so you can't strain the noodles without being reminded. Like, maybe go do this right now. I'll wait for you, don't worry!
Okay then, the sauce. It's super simple to make and consists of three ingredients: goat cheese, heavy cream, and pasta water. The trick to getting the silkiest of sauces is to let the goat cheese melt, then add the cream and stir until it is all warm and cohesive. Next, add in your freshly boiled penne noodles (get the kind with ridges so the sauce gets all up in there!), and the reserved pasta sauce, and continue cooking until the sauce is nice and thick and sticks to your noodles. It will seem like too much liquid at first, but the noodles will soak it up as they finish cooking.
Oh, and let's talk about the Brussels sprouts. I love the idea of Brussels sprouts in pasta because Brussels sprouts are my favorite and I like to think of them as tiny cabbages which makes them the CUTEST and I want to eat them in everything all winter long. Whenever I've added said tiny cabbages to a pasta sauce, they've turned into the kind of Brussels sprouts that aren't my favorite: mushy, slimy sprouts that have that flavorless steamed vegetable taste. Then the idea struck me to shred the Brussels sprouts, char them up in the oven while the rest of the pasta is being made, and serve them on top of the finished pasta. It is the perfect solution: It saves time on the stove, and allows you to have a perfectly charred, slightly crispy Brussels in every bite.
Serve this pasta with freshly ground pepper and parmesan cheese, and buckle in for some serious comfort food.
Chicken, Bacon, Goat Cheese Pasta with Rosemary & Charred Brussels Sprouts
For the Brussels Sprouts:
- 5 ounces Brussels sprouts, cut into thin rounds (about 2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Pasta:
- 12 ounces penne
- 2 ounces bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise
- Salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- Shaved parmesan (optional)
For the Brussels Sprouts:
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Toss shredded Brussels sprouts in olive oil and salt. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, flipping the sprouts halfway through. Brussels sprouts should be charred and crispy when done. Set aside.
For the Pasta:
- Cook noodles according to package directions until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the hot pasta water before draining and set aside for later use.
- Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy and fat is rendered, about 8 minutes. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon, reserving as much fat as possible in the skillet.
- Pat the chicken halves dry and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Add the chicken to the bacon fat in the skillet and cook, partially covered, 7-8 minutes per side, until cooked through and browned on the outside. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the skillet and cut into bite-size pieces.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Return chopped chicken to the skillet along with the bacon and rosemary. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the goat cheese and stir until melted. Once melted, add the cream and continue stirring until the melted goat cheese and cream form a cohesive sauce. Next, add the noodles along with the reserved pasta water. Simmer the noodles in the sauce for 5 minutes, until the sauce is silky and slightly thickened and the noodles are al dente. Serve pasta topped with charred Brussels sprouts and shaved parmesan cheese.