There are days, like now, when it’s this bitter cold and snowy that you want carbs and comfort. For me, this is one of the perfect dishes that keeps my tummy warm on these cold winter nights plus keeps me satiated most of the day.
When I introduced my Cheesy Meatball and Penne Pasta Bread Bowl, you guys went nuts over it asking for other variations of it. This is definitely one of my favorites. Now I was pretty apprehensive at first with the combination as pasta is supposed to have marinara or Alfredo sauce – not bbq. That’s just unthinkable. ESPECIALLY in an Italian household. Now while I’m not Italian, I’m married to one which means I apparently lose my background and am now officially pseudo Italian. LOL
You can use cooked shredded pork, beef, even turkey in this recipe in lieu of chicken. I haven’t tried seafood but then honestly I’m not all too sure if that would work. Who knows, maybe it will. Maybe I’ll get brave one day and try it. But for now, I’m fine sticking with those other proteins. LOL
So if you’re looking for a comforting dish to help get you through a cold winters’ night this is the dish for you! However I suggest you make a few and then invite me over. I’ll bring the movie and brownies and we’ll just veg out in our feetie jammies and have girl talk… LOL
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (~1 packet)
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (105–155 degrees F/40–46 degrees C)
- 2 tsp white sugar
- 2 Tbl butter, cut into cubes (cold)
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour (or any high gluten), plus extra as needed
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbl garlic powder
- 1 Tbl oregano, dried
- All-purpose flour for rolling and shaping
- 4 cups cooked penne pasts
- 2–3 cups bbq sauce (Bacon BBQ Sauce or Honey BBQ Sauce), warmed
- 2 large yellows onion, sliced into 1/4” slices
- 1 1/2 Tbl butter
- 1 1/2 Tbl olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into bite sized chunks
- 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 8–10 slices of cooked bacon cut into 1–2” pieces *optional
- 1–2 Tbl melted butter
Make the dough:
- Proof the yeast by pouring the yeast and sugar into the warm water in a bowl of your stand mixer and gently stir until the yeast dissolves.
- Let the yeast and water stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the yeast doesn’t foam, it is either inactive of you have used water that is too cold or too hot; start over with fresh yeast.)
- Once the yeast has bloomed, add in the flour, oregano and garlic and fit your mixer with a dough hook.
- Mix on low until combined stopping if need be to scrape down the sides.
- After 3 minutes of mixing, add in the salt. You never want to add the salt directly to the yeast as that will kill it on contact.
- Mix until a soft, smooth elastic ball forms; ~8-10 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl but still be wet/tacky to the touch. If need be add a Tbl of flour or so to help combine. If it’s too dry, add a Tbl of water.
- Add in the butter cubes and mix for another 3-5 minutes or until the butter is all incorporated. Don’t worry as the dough will separate initially but it will come back into a smooth dough.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a very lightly floured surface.
- Give it a few kneads to form the dough into a smooth ball tucking the ‘ends’ underneath.
- Place in a lightly oiled bowl (at least 2-3 times bigger than the ball) and cover with plastic wrap.
- Place bowl in a warm, draft-free area. Allow the dough to double in size. ~2 hours.
- Once the dough is doubled in size, scrape it out onto a lightly floured area and divide the dough into 4 equal sized pieces.
- Gently form the pieces into 4 smooth balls tucking the ‘ends’ underneath.
- Place on a lightly greased pan.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
Make the Filling:
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, add in the butter and olive oil.
- Once the butter is melted add in the onions and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the sugar (trust me on this) and mix around.
- Cook for another 8-10 minutes or until the onions are soft and just start to caramelize. Watch your heat so they don’t burn.
- In a bowl place the noodles, 2 cups of bbq sauce, 3 cups of cheddar, cooked onions and bacon.
- Gently mix to combine and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 450F with the rack in the middle. If you have a Pizza Stone , place that in the center. If you don’t, invent a large baking pan and place that in the oven while preheating. I personally use a Pizza Screen (which doesn’t need preheated). If you use a pizza stone, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on heating that up.
- If using a pizza stone or baking pan, place the dough ball on a Pizza Peel or parchment paper with cornmeal on it. If using a pizza screen, just pat the dough out on lightly floured surface.
- Start with the dough ball and pat down/stretch the center of the dough ball and slowly stretching the dough to a 6” round circle. Leave a 3/4“ edge. Do NOT make the middle that thin. You just want to create almost a ‘lip’ around the edge.
- Brush the edges of the dough (the lip) with the melted butter.
- Take 2-3 Tbl of bbq sauce and place a thin layer of sauce in the well. You should have about a 1/2 cup sauce leftover. Save this
- Take a quarter of the pasta filling and mound that in the ‘well’ part of the dough. It should mound up at least an inch high. It’s OK as you want this. The dough will cook up and around the filling.
- Evenly divide the remaining shredded cheddar over top of the filling.
- If using a pizza stone, slide the dough onto the pizza stone. If using a baking sheet, place the parchment paper with the dough on top. If using a screen, place inside the oven directly.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the dough is crispy golden brown and the cheese is melted.
- Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes.
- Drizzle with bbq sauce or serve with a side of sauce for dipping the bread.