A few simple upgrades take this any-night dish to party-ready status.

By Katie Strasberg Rousso
December 19, 2019
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Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Too often, spaghetti is associated with crazed weeknight meals. Sure, your basic spaghetti and meat sauce can go from pot to plate in under 30 minutes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a more sophisticated side. A simple change in technique or ingredients can make all the difference.

As a self-proclaimed spaghetti enthusiast, I should know. I have firmly claimed spaghetti as my favorite food since learning to twirl my noodles with a kiddie fork. And while I’m always game for a quick, classic plate, I get particularly excited when I come across new spaghetti dishes to try.

When this recipe for Chicken Spaghetti crossed my desk, I flagged it immediately. The basic elements are all there–spaghetti, chicken, cheese, and veggies–but the one-pot prep in a Dutch oven is a game changer. The recipe squeezes every ounce of flavor from the stock by recycling the liquid in your Dutch oven to cook the chicken, pasta, and sauce. The process doesn’t take much longer than preparing your typical spaghetti bake, but it’s the elevating factor that takes this any-night dish to party-ready status.

Beyond the Dutch oven, there’s a lot to love about this recipe. The well-simmered stock is already soaked with flavor when it combines with evaporated milk, flour, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to create a creamy base for the bake. I’m typically one to avoid extra spice, so the touch of hot sauce felt slightly off brand at first glance. Luckily, the two teaspoons are just enough to complete the flavor profile without any kick. Dressed up with colorful peppers and tomatoes, the sauce is definitely one of this casserole’s strong suits.

WATCH: Heavenly Chicken Lasagna

I gave this recipe a try the last time I had my parents over for dinner, and it was a roaring success. Paired with a simple salad and bread, this colorful bake was hearty enough to carry the meal on its own. Two servings in and my dad was eying thirds while my mom grabbed a pen to jot down the recipe–both tell-tale signs that this recipe was well on its way to becoming a family staple.