July 29, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Mac N Cheese

Say cheese!! My husband has been begging me to make this for months now.  I finally snuck it in on the menu and he was so excited.   It turned out really tasty and creamy.   This is a perfect potluck dish to share.  To be honest, I had never made my own homemade mac and cheese until this.  I know!   I'm out of my mind.   And I LOVE cheese especially in macaroni and cheese.   I really need to stop being such a procrastinator.   This made so much we ate on it for 2 days (dinner & lunch) and had enough to share with two people at work for lunch.  They loved it! Beats eating Lean Cuisines for a day. 

I used Tabasco as that is what we had on hand.  **You can really use about any hot sauce but a thicker one you would use about 1/4-3/4 cup.  (or whatever amount to your taste)

2-3 c chicken, cooked and shredded
1 lb elbow macaroni or another fun shaped pasta (like corkscrews or rotini)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp Tabasco sauce**
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp dry mustard
2 1/2 c half n half
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or cubed
8 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded or cubed
2/3 c sour cream
1 c panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 c blue cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or use dried if you have that on hand)
7 tbsp butter, unsalted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Butter 9x13 baking dish.  Bring large pot of water to boil.   Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.  Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Then add the hot sauce and simmer an additional minute.

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a 4 qt- saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Whisk in the half and half and stir about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses then whisk in the sour cream until smooth. 

Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni.  Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the top.  

Put the remaining 2 tbsp of butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted.  Stir in the panko crumbs, blue cheese and parsley.  Sprinkle over the macaroni.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.  Let rest about 10 minutes before serving.   Serves a small army!

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