Add bacon to just about anything, and we go weak in the knees. Sprinkle crumbles of bacon over crispy, Parmesan-crusted chicken and creamy pasta? That’s love at first sight. Oh, and wait until you hear the secret ingredient for said pasta sauce: We use bacon fat (aka culinary liquid gold) to sauté sun-dried tomatoes and garlic for deeply savory notes, then swirl in cream cheese and butter. It’s all tossed with al dente spaghetti for a dreamy, silky base for the meat, then sprinkled with Parmesan and fresh herbs. This is basically a love note in dinner form, and we’re smitten.
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Green Herb Blend
Tuscan Heat Spice
• Adjust rack to top position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Wash and dry all produce. • Finely chop sun-dried tomatoes. Peel and mince or grate garlic. Halve grape tomatoes lengthwise. Pick parsley leaves from stems; finely chop leaves. Thinly slice chives. • In a small bowl, combine panko, half the Parmesan (save the rest for serving), 1 tsp Tuscan Heat Spice (2 tsp for 4 servings), and a large drizzle of olive oil. (You’ll use more Tuscan Heat Spice later.) Season with salt and pepper.
• Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add bacon* and cook, turning occasionally and adjusting heat if browning too quickly, until crispy, 6-10 minutes. • Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Turn off heat. Discard all but 1 tsp bacon fat (you’ll use it to make the sauce in step 5). • Once bacon is cool enough to handle, roughly chop.
• While bacon cooks, pat chicken* dry with paper towels and season all over with 1 tsp Tuscan Heat Spice (2 tsp for 4 servings), salt, and pepper. (Be sure to measure the Tuscan Heat Spice.) Place chicken on a baking sheet. • Evenly spread sour cream onto top of each cutlet. Mound coated sides with panko mixture, pressing to adhere (no need to coat the undersides). • Roast on top rack until crust is golden brown and chicken is cooked through, 15-18 minutes.
• Once water is boiling, add spaghetti to pot. Cook until al dente, 9-11 minutes. • Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water, then drain.
• Meanwhile, return pan with reserved bacon fat to medium heat with 1 TBSP butter. Add sun-dried tomatoes and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. • Stir in cream cheese and 1⁄3 cup plain water (½ cup for 4 servings). Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, 1-2 minutes.
• Stir grape tomatoes into pan with sauce. Add drained spaghetti and 1 TBSP butter (2 TBSP for 4 servings); toss to combine. (TIP: If needed, stir in reserved pasta cooking water a splash at a time until pasta is coated in a creamy sauce.) Stir in half the chopped parsley and chives; season with salt and pepper. • Divide pasta between plates or shallow bowls. Top with chicken. (TIP: Slice chicken crosswise first if desired.) Sprinkle with bacon, remaining Parmesan, and remaining chopped parsley and chives. Serve.