In a sauté pan over medium heat, add chopped bacon and cook until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease. If needed, add olive oil to equal 2 tablespoons of total oil/grease in your pan.
Add cubed chicken and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from pan, set aside, and cover to keep warm.
Add water, penne pasta, and ranch seasoning to pan. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook to al dente according to pasta's package directions. Most of the liquid should be absorbed.
Add cooked chicken, bacon, heavy cream, and shredded cheese to pan. Stir until cheese has melted. Remove from heat and allow to set for 5 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.
Want to add vegetables? Stir in a cup of peas, cooked broccoli, or a handful of spinach before adding your heavy cream.
Heavy cream can be substituted with sour cream.
Cheese should be freshly grated. Bagged, pre-shredded cheese is coated in a powder to prevent clumping, which can cause your sauce to be grainy.
It is important to accurately measure your broth and pasta for this recipe. As written, you'll have just enough liquid to cook your pasta, without leaving excess liquid in the pan.