Monday, February 19, 2018

Buffalo-Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate in comfort food, isn't it?  It's not a dish we eat often at the Just One Donna table, but a couple of times a year I'll make it in all of its heart-warming decadence.  I like my mac and cheese with cups and cups of shredded cheese, lots of butter, half-and-half, and those crunchy, buttery bread crumbs on top.

Oh, yes!  It doesn't get any better than that...or does it?

A Crunchy Blue Cheese and Panko Topping
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with a Crunchy Blue Cheese Topping

Macaroni and cheese is yummy on its own, but if your taste buds are up to it, try adding a little Buffalo-chicken.  Then, mix a little crumbled blue cheese in with the crunchy topping and you'll have somthing really special. Well, it's genius I tell you.  It is forehead smacking genius!

If you love Buffalo-chicken flavors you will love this mac and cheese. When I make macaroni and cheese I like to start from scratch.  That includes shredding all the cheeses myself.  This dish is easy to make, but there is a lot of chopping, shredding and stirring going on.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
With all the cutting, shredding and chopping, there will be quite a mess to clean up after assembling the mac and cheese, so you'll want to be sure you have the time for the resulting clean up. To reduce the prep time a bit, use leftover roast chicken or a prepared rotisserie chicken from the grocery store in the recipe.

Is this mac and cheese worth all the work?  Oh, yes it is.

Buffalo-Chicken Mac and Cheese
Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 6-8
The Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Ingredients
Buffalo-Chicken Mac and Cheese Ingredients
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped fine
  • 3 cups of shredded chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cups Frank's hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half (I use fat free)
  • 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 2/3 cups sour cream (I use light)
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9-X-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Cook the macaroni in salted water about seven minutes. It will continue cooking in the casserole.  Drain and set the macaroni aside.

While the macaroni is cooking, melt three tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until they are soft, about five minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook two minutes more.  Add 1/2 cup of hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about one more minute.  Set aside.

The Buffalo Chicken Mixture in a Pan
The Buffalo-Chicken Mixture

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, then add the remaining 1/4 cup of hot sauce and stir until thick, about two minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses.  Finally, whisk in the sour cream and stir until smooth.  Taste the cheese sauce for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

A Layer of Buffalo Chicken
Layer the Chicken with the Macaroni

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 on top. Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter in the microwave.  Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley and spread evenly over the macaroni.

The Blue Cheese and Panko Topping
Ready for the Oven
Bake until bubbly, and the crumb topping is browned and crunchy, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.

The Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
The Buffalo-Chicken Mac and Cheese

I like to add a couple of vegetables to the plate whenever I serve this casserole.  Somehow I think the vegetables cancel out the calories in the mac and cheese!

Shared on Meal Plan Monday.

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