Chicken, Bacon, Mozzarella Stuffed Pasta Shells

This recipe is a little bit of a pain in the ass, but worth it.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Chicken thighs
  • 1/2 C. Shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh Tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Bechamel (recipe follows)
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijion Mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • 16 or so jumbo pasta shells

Bechamel:

  • 2 C. milk
  • 1/2 whole onion
  • 3 Garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour

Preheat oven to 400°

Start by seasoning the chicken. Mix salt, paprika, white pepper, onion powder, thyme, cayenne, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and garlic powder together in a bowl. Trim fat from chicken thighs, rinse and pat dry. coat each thigh in a little olive oil and then rub in the spice mixture until they are fully covered. Set aside.

Cook the bacon until your desired doneness, let cool, and chop.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Next start the Bechamel. In a saucepan combine milk, garlic, whole onion, and 1 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat. Strain the mixture and throw away the solids, keeping the milk mixture.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour, increase heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is a nice golden brown. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture, about 3/4 C. at a time to make sure it’s smooth. Simmer, stirring often, until thickened (about 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

Pan fry the chicken. Add about 1 tbsp olive oil to a pan and cook chicken until done, about 6 minutes per side. Remove from pan, drain, and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop finely.

In an oven safe dish, spray with olive oil and spread all but 1/2 C. bechamel on the bottom.

In a bowl, add the remaining bechamel, dijion mustard, cheese, tarragon, chicken, bacon, Worcestershire, red onion, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and mix until thoroughly combined. DSC01363mix

Stuff shells with mixture and place in the oven safe dish. Mix panko breadcrumbs with olive oil and top each shell with a Tbsp. or two, using it all up.

Cover dish with foil and place in oven until shells are heated through, about 12-15 min. Once done, turn on the broiler and broil for a couple minutes until breadcrumbs become golden brown and crispy.pastashells

Serve hot with garlic bread and a nice spinach salad.

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