Southwest Chicken Noodle Casserole

June 11, 2012 | Main Courses Recipes

In a fit of creativity one night, I was in the mood for comfort food, and my legendary Tuna Noodle Casserole normally hits the spot… but I was also in the mood for something spicy.  With a little brainstorming and somewhat major tweaking, I came up with the Southwest Chicken Noodle Casserole.  I kept the main components of the old casserole (noodles, milk, mayo, cream of chicken soup, shredded cheese, frozen corn), but used some items I had laying around to amp up the casserole to a new flavorful level.  I decided to poach the chicken breasts (so I wouldn’t have to fire up the oven or the grill) and then shred them, but I’m sure the recipe will be just as fantastic if you would like to use another method of cooking for the chicken — or leave the chicken out for a vegetarian version!  The end result wasn’t spicy like I was looking for, just wonderfully spiced with southwestern flavors… but I did add some Sriracha to it, which gave it the right kick!

Chicken Poaching Ingredients:
1 Large Chicken Breast (or 2 smaller ones)
2 Cups of Chicken Stock
Heavy Dash of Ground Cumin (maybe 2 or 3 tsp)
Dash of Chili Powder
Dash of Salt (I prefer Kosher)
Dash of Hot Sauce (like Cholula)

Casserole Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Mayo
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup (or cream of mushroom for vegetarian-style)
1 Large Chicken Breast, poached, then shredded
3 Tbsp Sliced Green Onions
4 oz. Can of Diced Green Chiles
3/4 Cup of Frozen Corn
8 oz. (by weight) Farfalle (aka Bowtie) Pasta, cooked to al dente
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 Packet of Taco Seasoning
1 1/2 Cups of Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend (reserve some to sprinkle on top)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Freshly Chopped Cilantro, for garnish (if desired)

Poaching Instructions:
In a saucepan deep enough to hold the chicken breast covered by the chicken stock, place the chicken in the pan.  Pour in the stock just until it covers the chicken (you may need more or less than 2 cups), then add the spices.  Turn heat to medium-high until the stock almost comes to the boil, and there is a lot of steam coming off the pan.  Turn the heat to medium-low to maintain this temperature of the stock (which should be between 160°F and 180°F), and cover.  Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F, about 10 minutes.  Let cool before shredding.

Casserole Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425°F
Mix all of the casserole ingredients in a large bowl and put into a casserole dish to bake.  Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top, just enough for a light layer.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top begins to turn a golden-brown color.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Caution: it will be temperature hot, so be careful when serving it to the kiddos.

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