When my wife is away for a while, I always bounce around the house at loose ends. One of my main challenges is to decide what to eat. Sometimes I will go to a restaurant, but feeling comfortable at a table for one is always a problem. Sometimes I buy a bunch of frozen dinners with the misguided, maybe even delusional, notion that I can lose some weight during Susan’s absence. The other alternative, cooking for one, is neither easy nor appealing. Still, this time I decided to cook something fairly simple that could be eaten as leftovers.
I had bought a chicken breast during my planning for meals for Susan’s trip, but I wound up not using it. So, needing to cook the chicken, I settled on a family favorite that could be scaled back from the usual crowd-pleaser.
When Susan’s mother and father were living on their East Texas farm, the many siblings and their children would often visit. The old-fashioned Southern comfort food, chicken spaghetti, was on the list of must-cook favorites. Mom Mom would often comply by cooking up a big batch. Her version included boiling a whole chicken to get a lot of chicken broth and shredded chicken. The recipe also called for Velveeta or American cheese. The finished dish fed a houseful of relatives.
For my home-alone effort, I wound up paring down the recipe and substituting ingredients including mild cheddar cheese for Velveeta. I’m sure my friend, Jim, would want to add green chiles, and that would be good, too. It was fairly easy to make, and there was enough left over from the first dinner for the next night. It tasted good, but I am anxious for Susan’s return.
Mom Mom’s Chicken Spaghetti For One
- boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 scallions including green tops, sliced
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- 3 cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 ounces mild cheddar cheese + more for topping
- 1/3 pound dry spaghetti
- salt and pepper
- In a large pot, cover the chicken with chicken stock and bring to the boil. Lower heat to low boil and cook for 3o minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and reserve the broth.
- With two forks, shred the chicken and set aside.
- Return the broth to the boil and stir in the scallions, peppers, and mushrooms. Simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still crunchy.
- In the meantime, make a blonde roux by combining the butter and flour in a small saucepan over medium low heat. As the butter melts, stir until they form a smooth paste. Cook for another 2-3 minutes to get rid of any raw flour taste. The roux should be smooth and not browned. Pour in a few tablespoons of the stock mixture, stirring at the same time. Then add the tempered roux back to the broth. (This should prevent lumps)
- Add the grated cheese and shredded chicken to the broth mixture and simmer for 10 minutes until everything is heated through.
- While the broth and chicken are simmering, cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water until tender, about 10-12 minutes. With tongs, transfer the cooked spaghetti to the hot broth mixture and stir gently until well combined. If needed, use some of the cooking liquid to thin the broth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Ladle the mixture into a serving bowl making sure to include chicken, spaghetti, vegetables, and broth. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and serve immediately. Enough for one with leftovers for a second meal.