Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

I went to Ann Arbor for my spring break to visit M and some old friends. On my last night in town, we went to the Blue Tractor restaurant. I had a pretty amazing BBQ sandwich, but the real show stopper was a friend's buffalo chicken mac and cheese.

Fast forward to a potluck I had to go to this last Sunday. I knew I wanted to make some type of similar mac and cheese. I searched the Food Network website and found this wonderful recipe from the most recent Food Network Magazine issue.

I altered it a bit to use what I had in the fridge and my own preferences.

- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 stick of unsalted butter
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 minced cloves of garlic
- 3/4 C of Frank's Red Hot (more to taste)
- 2 TBSP flour
- 2 tsp dried mustand
- 2 1/2 C half and half (I used 1 1/4 C cream and 1 1/4 C skim milk - it was fine)
- 16 oz grated cheddar cheese ( I used the random yellow cheeses I had in my fridge)
- 8 oz grated pepper jack cheese
- 2/3 C Low Fat Sour Cream
- 1 C panko bread crumbs
- Up to 1/2 C of blue cheese (I used a tiny wedge of Maytag Blue Cheese and it was more than enough)

1. Place the chicken breasts in a pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, cover, lower the heat to low, and allow to cook for approximately 8-10 minutes. Take one out, cut it open, and check to make sure it's cooked through. If not, allow to continue cooking. After chicken is cooked through, shred the breasts into fine pieces using two forks.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the macaroni - it is okay to slightly undercook it.
3. Melt 3 TBSP of the butter in a pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the chopped onions and cook until softened. Add the chicken and garlic and allow to until fragrant. Pour 1/2 C of Franks Red Hot and stir until well distributed. It will look like this:

4. In a new and large pan, melt 2 TBSP of butter and mix in the flour and the mustard. The pan will seem to large now, but I promise, you need it. Add the half and half and whisk until the flour mixture is incorporated. Next, add in the last 1/4 C of the Franks. After fully incorporated, add the grated cheeses and stir until incorporated. Stir in the sour cream until incorporated fully.
5. Melt the remaining butter in the microwave. Mix in the blue cheese and the panko bread crumbs as evenly as possible.
6. Layer the different elements in a 9X13 pan as the diagram below shows:

7. Bake the casserole for 30-40 minutes, until it bubbles. Take it out and let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

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