Slow cookers are a fabulous timesaver, and one I use more and more as school runs and schedules get into full swing. This is a great back-to-school recipe that can be modified to suit your needs.
We’re a gluten-free household (when my husband’s home), so this recipe features an easy, homemade alfredo sauce that’s gluten free, and gluten-free pasta. You’re more than welcome to use your favourite pasta, and a jar of alfredo sauce, but this easy white sauce may make you think twice about all the other ingredients thrown in with jar sauces.
My kids are both in morning classes, so I use this recipe to start just after lunch time for dinner later (2.5 hours). If your schedule means you need to start it in the morning, go for LOW to allow 5 hours. If you find the pasta gets too mushy (GF pasta can usually handle it), cook the pasta separately 20 minutes before serving, and skip the chicken stock at the end.
- 3 boneless chicken breasts
- ¼ cup chopped white onion (frozen is fine)
- 1.5 cup frozen broccoli florets (about 6-8 big pieces, hard to measure)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 cups double cream
- ½ cup butter
- 2 TB cream cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp basil pesto
- 1 cube or 1 tsp concentrated chicken stock (GF)
- 1.5-2 cups water
- 340g/12oz penne pasta (GF)
- salt and pepper to taste
First things first, give the slow cooker a bit of cooking spray, if you like, and spread the onions across the bottom of the pot.
Dice the chicken breasts into large cubes, trying to keep a similar size for uniform cooking. Spread the chicken cubes on the chopping board and shake on the oregano, black pepper and garlic powder before adding the spiced chicken to the pot.
Layer in your broccoli, turn the cooker onto HIGH and cover.
Next, I make the alfredo sauce, it takes about ten minutes total. You can opt for a jar, but this is really very simple.
Using a saucepan on a medium heat, I add the butter, cream cheese and cream.
Stir the butter and a cream cheese until smooth within the cream using a rubber spatula to clean the edges and bottom of the pan.
Add the pesto and mix into the cream before adding the grated cheese.
If you wanted to stop now, you could use this sauce over pasta any time, but for this recipe, we’re going to add the chicken stock for cooking the pasta.
Add the chicken stock with water to the alfredo sauce (I know – what? But trust me). You can mix the stock in a mug first, but I just mix in the concentrate and then top it off with the kettle, right there in the pan.
Turn off the heat once the mixture is smooth (a little oil displacement is fine).
Layer the uncooked pasta onto the broccoli, pour your sauce with stock into the cooker, covering the contents. If the pasta isn’t covered, stir the layers to bring the broccoli to the top, as it doesn’t need to be submerged. Add a little more water if you need to cover the pasta, but tread lightly.
If you prefer the jar option, I suggest mixing the alfredo with the chicken stock before adding it to the slow cooker.
Top tip: For added flavour, add bacon bits to the recipe. I keep leftover bacon (if there ever is any) after I’ve oven baked a tray full at 180C/375F for cooked breakfast.
Cover the cooker, and walk away. This will slowly grow over the next hour. If you happen to be home and walk by, feel free to push any stray noodles down, but by and large, this dish is happy to tick along in the background. It’ll be ready to serve after two hours if the chicken is smaller, 2.5 if larger chunks. Please be sure to check the chicken is cooked through; pressing it against the side of the pot with a spoon should break the chicken easily.
Turn off or onto warm after 2 hours (5 hours if LOW temperature setting) and enjoy! It’s an all in one, so scoop onto a plate or bowl whenever your family are ready to eat.