I love asparagus, especially in the spring and summer when I can get a big bunch for under a dollar. This recipe was inspired by Cooking Classy, but very little remained the same once I was through. If you are going to the trouble of frying bacon, you might as well fry the chicken and the asparagus in the leftover bacon grease. Go big or go home, right? I added some fresh basil at the end for my dish, Miss F and C were quite happy without. Heck, they would have been happy without the dried basil, oregano and thyme, but the herbs really add a lovely flavor.
12 ounces penne pasta
5 slices bacon, cut into lardons
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more for sauce
1 pound asparagus, trimmed of ends, remaining diced into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¾ cup milk
¼ cup cream
1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
Prepare the pasta per package instructions, drain and set aside, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water. Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove the bacon to a plate and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease from the pan. Stir together the basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the herb mixture all over the chicken. Add the chicken and asparagus to the pan and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Remove the chicken and asparagus to the plate with the bacon, set aside.
Add the butter to the pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Add the garlic and whisk for 30 seconds more. Whisk in the milk and cream, bring to a boil, stirring constantly to keep smooth. Add the parmesan cheese, penne pasta, bacon, chicken and asparagus. Toss well to combine and serve with additional parmesan on top.
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