Chicken Spaghetti

As I was browsing cookbook titles on Overdrive, the phrase “Accidental Country Girl” jumped out and slapped me upside the head. “Wow, that’s me”, I thought. I immediately downloaded the title and devoured the entire cookbook in one sitting. As a newly “countrified” girl myself I enjoyed reading about the author’s journey from preppy city girl to rancher’s wife. Now I don’t live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, but I do live in Wyoming where everything is in the middle of nowhere, so I could relate with her laments about the lack of stores on every corner, glory in the endless skies, and be amazed at the fact that animals out number people.

Ree Drummond’s story is engaging and the pictures are inspiring, depicting ranching life as idyllic. It almost read like a romance as she describes her first encounter with her husband, the Marlboro Man. She testifies that, “cowboys eat meat–lots of meat–with an occasional potato thrown in for balanced nutrition,” and swears to the fact that the way to a rancher’s heart is through good cooking. She details every aspect of each recipe, sometimes to the point of overkill, but for those who don’t have that inner chef’s voice or “cooking common sense” as I like to think of it, it’s a welcome relief. As I read through each recipe I settled on “Chicken Spaghetti”. I like that it’s a one dish meal and it’s different enough to give my family some variety and yet has familiar ingredients that I thought my family with their varied tastes would like.

The prep was pretty straight forward, the only time consuming item was removing the chicken from the bones. I used an orange bell pepper instead of a green one because that’s all I had on hand. It was a flying success! I thought it needed a bit more season salt, but my kids loved loved it! My notoriously picky seven year old had thirds which is unheard of unless we are having pizza. Thank you Pioneer Woman for adding a new staple to our family’s dinner time!

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Chicken Spaghetti from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond

1 cut-up fryer chicken
1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
One 4-ounce jar diced pimientos, drained
1 small onion
1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
2 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 to 1/4 cayenne pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350̊F.
2. Add the chicken to a stock pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 25 minutes.
3. Remove the chicken from the water using tongs or a slotted spoon and set it aside on a plate to cool.
4. Removed 2 cups of broth from the pot and set aside.
5. Bring the remaining broth back to a boil and add the spaghetti.
6. Drain the spaghetti, discarding the cooking liquid. Set aside.
With two forks (or your fingers), remove the chicken from the bones. Shred or cut the meat into bite-size chunks.
Drain the pimientos.
7. Then dice the vegetables:
Finely dice the onion.
8. Cut the green pepper into julienne strips…
9. Then slice them in the other direction to create dice.
10. Place the cooked spaghetti in a large bowl. Add the cream of mushroom soup.
Add 2 cups of the cheddar cheese.
11. Then add the onion, green pepper, and pimiento.
Add the seasoned salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Take it easy on the cayenne if you can’t handle the heat. But if you can, it sure adds some interest to the final dish.
12. Finally, add the chicken and broth.
13. Stir together well, then taste to check the seasonings
14. Pour the mixture into a large baking pan, and top with the remaining ½ cup cheddar cheese. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until bubbly.

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