In my other life, I teach school. It was almost a month ago that I received the call that we were not coming in for the next two weeks. Later the shelter in place order was extended to the beginning of May. I do not foresee returning to school until August, if then. Everything has changed, including the way we shop and cook. Usually, I stop by the grocery store daily to get fresh ingredients for dinner. We have only been shopping twice since the lockdown. So, fresh ingredients to cook whatever I feel like eating isn’t a possibility right now. My husband and I are both lucky enough to work from home, so our economics haven’t changed. In fact, we are saving money because we don’t visit restaurants and aren’t driving our cars. We know that isn’t true for everyone. We feel blessed.
With that in mind, I am creating recipes to help people deal with being in lockdown and having less money. Italian American Shrimp and Pasta and my sheet pan recipes are easy to make with ingredients you probably have. I also give you many easy ways to substitute more expensive ingredients, like shrimp, for less expensive ingredients, like chicken. This blog has a Facebook page where you can find many quick, no measure recipes for making really tasty meals just using canned goods. Use the hashtag #b2e_lockdown.
Caesar Chicken over Angel Hair is another good recipe made from inexpensive ingredients that have a long shelf life. You can substitute pork or shrimp for the chicken. Instead of lemon juice, you could use ½ teaspoon vinegar. You can also toss in cooked broccoli or frozen peas at the end and just warm through. I used Litehouse Caesar dressing because I already had some in the fridge. You can use any creamy Caesar dressing. It does not need to be refrigerated but can be shelf stable. You can skip the parsley. Finally, if you want to skip the bacon, that is a little harder. You can add ½ tablespoon of smoked paprika, but do you have that in your spice rack? If not when times are better, get some. It is magic. You can skip the bacon, but it won’t be the same. And obviously, you can use any long, thin pasta-thin spaghetti or spaghetti. Substitutions may change the cooking time.
Time: Prep: 10 minutes; Cooking: 30 minutes; Dinner in less than an hour
Hardware: measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knife, a large pot, a colander, a heat resistant measuring cup, a deep, heavy skillet, tongs, a wooden spoon, a paper towel covered plate, a large serving dish
- 4 ounces of angel hair
- A bit of butter
- 4 slices of bacon
- 1-pound of chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic (or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder)
- ½ cup of chicken broth
- 2 cups of creamy Caesar dressing
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 heaping tablespoon of dried parsley (if you are using fresh you can use 2-3)
- Read this recipe through before you begin. Mince the garlic. Set aside. Premeasure everything and set aside.
- Cook the bacon until it is very crispy. Place it on the paper towel covered plate. Do not clean the skillet.
- Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and generously salt and pepper them. Sauté the chicken pieces in the bacon fat over medium high until they are browned on both sides and done through. This will take about 7 minutes per side. Place the pieces onto the plate with the bacon. Set aside. Remove most of the fat from the skillet, but again, do not clean it.
- Boil the angel hair in the large pot according to package directions. This only takes about 4 minutes. DO NOT overcook it. Drain it and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with a tiny bit of butter to keep it from sticking and become a big goo.
- Heat the skillet over medium high and add the garlic. Sauté it for a minute or two until it is fragrant. Pour in the broth and deglaze the skillet, scraping up the little brown bits left from the meat. Stir in the Caesar dressing and bring the mixture to a low simmer. Add the Parmesan, lemon juice, and parsley and stir until combined. Use the pasta water to thin the sauce if it is too thick. Add about ¼ cup at a time and stir. I used about ½ cup of water, but that is up to you. Crumble the bacon into the sauce and then add the chicken. Taste and adjust the salt. Add as much black pepper as you think your family will tolerate.
- Place the pasta in the large dish and pour the sauce over it. GENTLY fold the pasta until everything is covered in sauce. If you stir too much the pasta will get sticky. Serve right away.