“Chicken bacon pasta”. It’s a phrase I’ve heard my whole life that is always met with a resounding “yessssssssss”. Chicken bacon pasta is my mom’s recipe, and is a staple in that household any time we come to visit. It’s requested nonstop, made in huge batches, and eaten for days and days at a time. It’s simple. It’s complex. It’s perfect comfort food.
Chicken bacon pasta is pure food magic.
First, you cook a whole pack of sweet, maple syrup bacon, (which is the correct way to start any recipe, in my opinion).
Then, you slowly caramelize an onion with butter, sugar, and salt for about 45 minutes until creamy, melty, and deep golden brown.
Next, because this is food porn, you cook bite-sized pieces of chicken in the leftover bacon grease. Yessss.
With all that flavor built-in, a simple sauce is the perfect complement: olive oil, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes.
Don’t you just want to dive right in and then take a lazy Sunday nap? Yes, yes you do.
- 1 lb. maple flavored bacon
- 1 large, yellow onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 lb. penne pasta
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ tsp. rep pepper flakes, (more or less to taste)
- In a large frying pan over medium-low heat, cook the bacon in batches until perfectly brown and crisp. Remove the cooked slices from the pan and transfer to a paper towel. After all the bacon is cooked, keep the bacon grease in the pan over medium heat until the chicken is ready to cook.
- Meanwhile, in a medium-sized stock pot, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil with 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted, add the sliced onion. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and the sugar, stir, and let cook low and slow for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and do not let the onions burn! They will stay clear for about 30 minutes, and the last 10-15 minutes will be critical for browning. You want them golden, so after they start to brown, turn down the heat to low and stir every couple minutes until they are done.
- In a separate, large pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook the penne pasta according to the package directions. Drain, and set aside until ready to toss.
- Once the bacon is done cooking, take a medium-sized mixing bowl and add the bite-sized chicken pieces, a Tbsp. of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and the flour. Toss to coat all pieces evenly.
- Add the chicken to the hot bacon grease, in batches if need be, (don't crowd the pan!) and fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Drain chicken on paper towels.
- To assemble the dish, take your large stock pot from the pasta and put it over low heat. Add the pasta, and toss with the last 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, (you can use an herbed olive oil here if you'd like!) parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes to taste.
- Once the pasta is coated in the sauce, stir in the chicken, bacon, and caramelized onions.
- Serve with more parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes on top, if desired!