Ok, let me just say that there is nary a vegetable to be found in this dish, unless you count onion, celery, or garlic (….oooh! and parsley! parsley is kind of healthy!…), lots of cheese, and buttery breadcrumbs. And it’s worth it. I did, however, serve this up with a huge pile of sautéed spinach to cut the guilt a little bit. 🙂
Brian and I ate this in silence, exchanging the occasional happy looks and yummy sounds. So delicious.
Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
Recipe by Just the Tip / Inspired by Food Network
Here’s what I used:
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- ½ lb whole wheat pasta (I used shells, but any short cut will work)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 2 cups shredded/cubed rotisserie chicken
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp Frank’s hot sauce
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 ¼ cups fat-free half and half
- 8 oz yellow sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 ¼ cups)
- 4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- ½ cup whole wheat panko
- 2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese (you could use more or eliminate all together)
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Here’s what I did:
- Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a 11×7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While that’s coming up to a boil, prep the chicken, veggies, and cheese.
- Prepare the chicken mixture: Melt 2 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 ¼ cup hot sauce and stir together for another minute or so. Set aside to a back burner.
- Salt the pasta water and drop the pasta and cook until super al dente, a couple of minutes shy of package directions.
- Prepare the sauce: Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and mustard and let cook for about a minute. Add more butter or a splash of oil if it looks too dry (or, conversely, add more flour if it looks too wet). Whisk in the half and half, then add the remaining 2 tbsp hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Drain the pasta (or scoop out with a spider, my fave kitchen tool), and add to the cheese sauce. Add the chicken mixture to the sauce and pasta, and stir together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pour mixture into the baking dish.
- Put the remaining 1 tbsp butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko, blue cheese (if using) and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30-40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.