This chicken, sweet potato, and bacon casserole is comfort food personified. Herbed chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, bacon, sauteed red onion, and Gruyere cheese are mixed together and baked. Weeknights, weekends, dinner for company. It does it all.
In some ways an old-school casserole, this one-dish dinner of chicken, sweet potatoes, and bacon cloaked in a white sauce make us think of mom’s casseroles. But then we recall mom’s cooking never tasted quite this good. Sorry, mom. But it’s true. See for yourself.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Bacon Casserole
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 1 H, 20 M
- Serves 4 to 6
- Four (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces sweet potatoes (about 1)
- 1 medium red onion or sweet onion
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 5 slices good-quality smoked bacon
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (1/2 oz), plus more for the baking dish
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese
- Fresh sage sprigs, for garnish (optional)
- Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish (optional)
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or shallow 3-quart casserole dish.
- 2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Either chop the chicken breasts into 1-inch chunks or place each chicken breast on a work surface and, using a sharp knife held parallel with the surface, cut the breast in half horizontally to create 8 chicken pieces. In a small bowl, mix together the thyme, sage, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Set aside 1 teaspoon herb mixture. Season the chicken on all sides with the remaining herb mixture.
- 3. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Stack several rounds on top of each other and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Peel the onion, halve through the root end, and slice into 1/4-inch-wide strips.
- 4. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons oil until hot. Add the chicken and sauté until lightly browned but not cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to the prepared baking dish. Add the chicken broth and wine to the skillet and whisk to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom. Cook, stirring, until the liquid has reduced to 1/4 cup, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour over the chicken breasts.
- 5. In the same skillet set over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and, when cool, chop coarsely. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings and reserve for another use. To the drippings in the skillet add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place the skillet over medium heat, and when hot, add the sweet potatoes and onion and sauté, stirring, until softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and spoon them over the chicken. Sprinkle with the bacon. (The casserole can be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Let it set at room temperature for 30 minutes before proceeding.)
- 6. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and the reserved 1 teaspoon of seasoning. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, whisking constantly, and cook until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes from the time the sauce begins to boil. The sauce will be quite thick. Taste the sauce and season with salt if needed. (You can cool, cover, and refrigerate the sauce separately for up to 1 day. Gently reheat over low temperature before proceeding.) Dab the sauce over the ingredients in the casserole and sprinkle with the Gruyère. Cover the casserole loosely with a sheet of foil.
- 7. Bake the casserole until the chicken is cooked through and tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before bringing it to the table. If desired, garnish the center of the dish with some sage and thyme sprigs before serving.