2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts pounded to 1-inch thickness (or 4 boneless and skinless chicken thigh fillets)
Salt and pepper, to season
1/2 teaspoon paprika (sweet or smokey)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon oil, divided (use olive or canola oil)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion chopped
6 cloves garlic finely diced
1/3 cup white wine OPTIONAL (use chicken broth instead if you wish)
9 oz (250g) jarred sun dried tomato strips in oil (reserve 2 tablespoons of oil and drain the rest)
3 level tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups milk OR light cream* or half and half, divided
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
10 ounces (300g) elbow macaroni uncooked (3 cups!)
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
1/2 cup grated cheese Cheddar or Gruyere
2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
Season chicken with salt, pepper, paprika, dried parsley and 2 teaspoons of the oil. Heat the remaining oil in a large (30cm or 12-inch) pot or pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden brown, cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. Transfer chicken to a warm plate, tent with foil and set aside.
To the same pan, add the butter and fry the onion and garlic until the onion becomes transparent, stirring occasionally (about 2 minutes). Pour in the white wine and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, or until beginning to reduce down.
Add the sun dried tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the sun dried tomato oil from the jar and cook for 1-2 minutes to release as much flavour as possible.
Stir the flour into the pot and allow to cook for a further minute. Then, add the broth, 2 1/2 cups of milks (or cream/half and half), herbs, salt and pepper, and bring to a very low simmer (lower the heat if you need to).
Add the dry macaroni and stir occasionally as it comes to a simmer. Reduce heat down to medium low and stir regularly while it cooks (for about 9 – 10 minutes), or until the sauce thickens and the macaroni is just cooked (al dente: tender but still firm). Add the spinach and stir through until wilted.
Take the pot off the stove and stir all of the cheese in quickly. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce it too thick, add the remaining 1/2 cup milk (or cream) in 1/4 cup increments, until reaching desired thickness. Keep in mind the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
Slice the chicken into strips and stir through the pasta (pour in any juices left from the chicken). Sprinkle with parsley, and stir through. Serve immediately!
*Full fat milk is preferred for maximum flavour, but low fat milk is ok. You can also use a light cream, heavy cream or evaporated milk.
**For added cream flavour, add in 1/2 cup light cream (or heavy cream if you wish), right before right before adding in the spinach. Allow it to get hot before adding in the spinach!