Monday, April 21, 2014

Easy Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

This recipe is actually my husband's. Although I did help with tweaking the flavors a bit. So it's sort of a collaborative Mac and Cheese.  He's gotten very much into experiments of the macaroni and cheese variety. He finally admitted that homemade is better than the stuff in the Kraft box. I might have shed a tear at that one. It only took 23 years of marriage.

This recipe is the perfect balance of creamy, cheesy goodness and sharp Buffalo wing sauce tanginess. If you didn't want the chicken you could just add the hot sauce and butter to the macaroni. But, I warn you, that might make my husband cry.  You can also put this together in the time it takes the pasta to boil. This doesn't take a minute more to make than the boxed stuff.

Here's a look at your ingredients: Pasta, a can of evaporated milk, eggs, sharp white cheddar cheese, Monterrey Jack cheese, cooked chicken, (this was a shredded rotisserie, but you could always cook either chicken thighs or chicken breast for this) Frank's Hot Sauce, butter and Buffalo pretzel bits and some crumbled blue cheese.

Let's start by boiling a box of macaroni in a large pot of heavily salted water. Salt it good! This is how you are seasoning the macaroni. We like to use cavatappi, a curly ridged noodle, because of the way it catches the sauce in mac and cheese.

While that's boiling, let's combine  melted butter and hot sauce in equal amounts in a dish or large measuring cup.

Give it a stir until blended.

Coat the chicken thoroughly and set aside. You can do this the night before if you like. The chicken only tastes better the longer it sits.

Now let us make the easiest cheese sauce in the history of ever. You'll need eggs, evaporated milk and some salt and pepper.

Combine the eggs and the evaporated milk together in a cup or bowl with salt and pepper.

Whisk the daylights out of it.

If your cheese, like this lovely block of sharp white cheddar, is in block form, get out the grater and grate it. I like to do it on parchment paper. It's easier to move around.

Now your sauce base should be all set - egg & milk mixture plus your two cheeses and two tablespoons of butter.

While the pasta is still boiling. Put some of those pretzel bits in a plastic bag and bash the heck out of them.

Melt some butter in a pan.
Toss in the pretzel bits and cook in the butter until they brown slightly. Set aside.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it.

Return it immediately to the pot you cooked it in and add the two tablespoons of butter.

Stir it in to melt thoroughly. Then add the egg and milk mixture. Make sure you give it a whisk before pouring it in the pot.

Now add the shredded cheddar.
Plus the shredded Monterrey Jack.

Stir until the sauce is nice and creamy. You should be able to do this with the heat off, but if it doesn't melt, you can turn it on low.

Now add in the chicken coated with hot sauce.
Stir to combine and then salt and pepper to taste.
At this point you can either add the macaroni and cheese to a buttered dish and sprinkle with blue cheese or put in on a plate or bowl and add the blue cheese. I could say that the blue cheese is optional, but not having blue cheese is never an option for me.
Then sprinkle on the buttery pretzel crumbs.
Here's what it looks like in a serving dish.
If you like more of that Buffalo zing, serve with hot sauce on the side.

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