Friday, January 13, 2012

Chicken, Monterey Jack & Leek Stuffed Shells

Stuffed Shells - cooked 1

Hey fellow foodies? How's your new year so far?

I have no complaints. I'm happy to be feeling better and to be back in my kitchen cooking and baking. I have such a long list of things I want to make, sometimes I just don't know where to start. This pesky little thing called a job keep interrupting me and taking all my time away from cooking, so my weekend are usually spend whipping up as much as I can. There still is never enough time though.

So I pick through and I sort and I try to make the things I absolutely think we'll love and most time I hit the nail on the head. This recipe is no exception. I found it on a blog called Carrol Luna. Beautiful stuff. The picture of her Chicken Stuffed Shells made my mouth water. I had to make them.

A kinda wandered off the beaten path with the recipe. I added in some leeks and changed the spices up a bit, but I did keep the brown sugar in. I was hesitant at first, but it worked!

Here's what they looked like before they went into the oven:

Chicken Stuffed Shells

And when they came out:

Stuffed Shells - cooked

If you're the type of person that loves the crunchy pasta that sticks to the side of the pan...well, well my friend...this is the perfect dish for you. All the tops of the shells get just a wee bit crunchy. Lovely!

Chicken, Monterrey Jack & Leek Stuffed Shells
adapted from a recipe at
1 box jumbo shells
2 pounds of ground chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek, chopped (white and light green parts only)
2 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups tomato sauce
8oz shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Butter to top the pasta (optional)

Oven to 375. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the chopped leeks and cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Just until they start to soften. Add in the ground chicken. You will have to break it up as it cooks. Meanwhile boil the pasta in salted water for about 6 minutes. You want it very al dente.

Add Italian seasoning and tomato paste to the chicken mixture. Turn off the heat and add in the brown sugar and cheese. Remove from heat and gently stir. Set aside.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Instead of baking these in the usual 9x13 inch pan, they are baked veritcally in a round baking dish. I used my Pampered chef round baking pan. A deep dish pie pan would work well too.

The original recipe also calls for topping each of the shells with a little butter. I skipped that step. Maybe I'll try it next time. I'm curious to see if it would make a big difference.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 - 40 minutes. Uncover the last 10 minutes or so and sprinkle on a bit more cheese if you'd like.
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