Thanks to daughter Fran, whenever I try a recipe that features broccoli, carrots, squash or cauliflower, my first impulse is to prep and roast in the oven. I enjoy the taste of the caramelization that occurs during the roasting process. She also taught me that chicken is more tender and juicy cooked whole (breasts or thighs) and cut for recipes after a short rest.
Here's what you need:
2 chicken breasts
2+ cups of broccoli (approximately)
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp (or more) olive oil
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup cream
1 1/2+ cups of chicken broth
3 cups of Casarecce or Penne pasta
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Prep broccoli by cutting into pieces you feel comfortable eating in a casserole type dish. I like mine fairly small. Place cut broccoli onto a full size (18x26) baking sheet pan, ideally with a silicone mat. Add about 1 Tbsp of olive oil, 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 of ground pepper, toss together.
Prep chicken breasts with a thin coating of olive oil along with a few grinds of salt and pepper on both sides. Add to a small foil lined baking dish.
Place both the broccoli and chicken breasts into the preheated oven. In my oven, both are usually done after 20 minutes, depending on size of broccoli and whether chicken breasts are completely thawed. I like my broccoli to be a medium golden brown around the edges. Check temperature of chicken after 15 minutes. Once it's up to 100 or so degrees, cooking can be complete within 5 minutes. Be sure not to cook it beyond 155-160 degrees.
While the broccoli and chicken cook, finely shred both the Parmesan and Monterey Jack cheese and mince garlic.
You can begin to make the roux during this time:
Heat a large non-stick skillet or dutch oven over medium low heat. Pre-measure your cream and broth to have ready. Heat large pot of water for pasta.
Add flour to dutch oven/skillet. Stir for approximately 1 minute. Add butter, olive oil and minced garlic. Using a wire whisk, stir constantly for approximately 2 minutes or until you can smell the garlic. Begin to slowly add the cream while stirring constantly. The mixture should begin to thicken. Do the same with the broth. Add more broth if the consistency seems too thick for a white sauce. Turn heat down to low, stir in shredded cheese until melted. Turn off heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook and drain pasta--saving a cup of pasta water in case dish needs more moisture once all the ingredients have been added.
When chicken is done and has rested for 5 minutes, use a sharp knife and fork to slice. I slice each breast in half, lengthwise and then 1/4+ slices crosswise.
Add pasta to cheese sauce, stir to coat. Then add chicken and broccoli. Stir to coat. Be sure to taste. Adjust salt and pepper as needed or add a few dashes of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.