As I've said before, The Husband has a thing for Mac & Cheese. So when a friend, The Ex-Pat (as she’s currently residing in Scotland, drawing pictures of cowboys and walking past breathtaking castles while also being a good wife and making delicious food) posted not one but TWO separate Mac & Cheese recipes (along with mouthwatering pictures), I had to test them.
The first, an ode to Avocado was an awesome one pot (one Cuisinart) dish. The combination of Avocado and Cheese made it really creamy and the pepper jack was a really great addition. As I like my food on the spicy side, this was kind of perfect. For once in my life, I did follow that recipe as it was written which is why I just posted the link to it above. If you don’t want something on the spicy side, you can just go with Monterey Jack some something a little milder.
The second recipe The Ex-Pat came up with herself. She winged it (which I totally love) but since I knew how delicious this was going to be, and figured that something this fantastic should have a recipe, I followed her directions and came up with something a little more concrete. Both The Husband and I totally loved this, we had loads of leftovers and he took it with him to work for a few nights. The amazing thing about this dish is that it’s just as fantastic cold as it is hot. And it can be used as either a side or a dinner (we had it for a dinner)
1lb Elbow Macaroni
1QT Whole Milk but you can do Skim or 2% (according to The Ex-Pat, “The richer the milk, the richer the mac!”)
2 Large Chicken Breasts cut into 2 inch strips (or just spend a little more money and get a pound of chicken tenders)
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
2 TBS Hot Sauce
1 Bottle of Franks Buffalo Sauce
4 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, plus some extra to sprinkle
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the chicken (start this before)
Combine the Garlic, 2TBS of Hot Sauce and Salt and Pepper in a shallow bowl along with the Chicken. Make sure to completely cover the Chicken with the marinade and let it sit for 30 minutes.
After you marinate it, heat a sauté pan with a little olive oil and add the Chicken. Cook the strips on medium heat until they are cooked through, about 7 minutes. Remove and let cool.
For the noodles
In a medium sized pot, pour the quart of Milk and add the pound of Elbows. The Milk should just barely cover the macaroni. Don’t add any more, even though if you’re like me, you’re going to want to. Cook the Mac and Milk on medium heat. Be sure to stir it constantly, as you don’t want the milk to scorch or boil over. This is probably going to take around 10 to 15 minutes.
When the Macaroni is cooked most of the Milk should be absorbed. Make sure to turn off the heat and add the Cheese one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly. The Macaroni and Cheese mixture is going to get really think and gooey, this is a good thing. Once all of the Cheese is mixed in, you can let it stand while you shred the Chicken.
Turn on your oven to 400 degrees.
To shred the Chicken, I took two forks and shredded the chicken along the grain. Get it into smaller pieces and then add the Franks Buffalo Sauce. Totally cover the Chicken with the sauce (this IS a Buffalo Mac & Cheese, so you want it to be Buffalo-y). Throw the Chicken back in the sauté pot and cook along with the sauce until everything is hot, around 3-5 minutes.
Turn the heat back on, medium, I'd say and cook the chicken with sauce so it can absorb it all. Taste it. If it needs a little salt, add it. If you think it needs a little more Buffalo Sauce, add it (I added a bit more)
Add the Chicken into the Macaroni and Cheese mixture and mix until everything is combined.
Put the mixture into a pan, I used a 9x13 baking pan. Cover the Mac & Cheese with Breadcrumbs (you don’t have to use all ¾ of a cup, but make sure that the mac is covered), more Cheddar and drizzle with Buffalo Sauce.
Bake in the oven until the Cheese is melted and the Breadcrumbs have crisped, around 10 minutes. Pull it out, let it cool and dig in!