Baked Spaghetti with Chicken and Four Cheeses

 
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Created by my sister, Judy Edwards, this creamy, comforting dish can be made ahead and reheated, so it’s great for serving a crowd, especially a crowd with kids

Serves 8 to 10

One 4 1/2 to 5-pound chicken or 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
8 ounces spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 tablespoons (3/4 Stick) unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
4 ribs celery, chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and stems removed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth (reserved from cooking the chicken, or use canned or homemade broth if substituting cooked chicken)
One 14-ounce can (about 2 cups) chopped tomatoes
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Italian Fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated provolone cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place the chicken in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced in the thickest part. Remove the chicken from the liquid (reserve the liquid) and cool to room temperature.

2. Remove 2 cups of the chicken broth from the pot and set aside. (Reserve the remaining broth for another use.)

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Grease a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish and set aside.

5. Prepare the spaghetti according to package directions until al dente. Rinse, drain, and toss in a colander with the olive oil and set aside to drain.

6. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and set aside. Discard the skin and reserve the bones for stock or soup, if desired. Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces.

7. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a skillet and add the onion, bell pepper, jalapenos, celery, and mushrooms. Cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add the flour and reduce heat to low; cook about 3 minutes longer, stirring constantly.

8. Add the 2 cups of reserved chicken broth and stir constantly until the liquid comes to a boil and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 1 minute.

9. Add the tomatoes, Fontina, mozzarella, provolone, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and remove from the heat.

10. Add the chicken and spaghetti to the sauce mixture and toss just to blend; do not overmix or the spaghetti will break.

11. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbling around the edges and golden brown on top. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.

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