Buffalo Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese

20150322_183910As I get older, I realize that my time is constantly getting split into smaller and smaller sections. It’s almost like my actual person-hood is being divided up. I started out life with only two roles: self and daughter. I had to make decisions about what I wanted based on my own personal feelings and how they related to my life in my family. Then I started going to school, which added “student” to my list of roles. Eventually I grew up enough that “student” was replaced with “employee.” (For a few years there was a little overlap, but basically I swapped out being a student to being a person with a job.) Then I got married, so “wife” was added to my list. And then I had kids, and I took on the role of “mother” (which turns out to be a rather large one). Somewhere along the way other roles were added, completely of my own free will–church member, charity volunteer, and food blogger. All of these roles require my time and energy, and some roles get more of it than others. 20150322_174510For the past month or so I have been a little preoccupied with organizing the volunteers for our church’s garage sale. I’ve also been dealing with a few issues at my sons’ school. As a result my posts to this blog have been less frequent than I would have liked. I thought that this post was going to have to wait until the fall, since it’s more of a “cold weather” dish and it’s almost May. Then the weather stayed cold, and I thought, what the heck–blog it anyway. Maybe I’m just realizing that if I try to excel in all of my roles (wife, mother, blogger, etc.) all of the time, then I will end up a fractured mess. Some days just require all of my focus on being one thing. Right now I have the time to spend a little on myself, so I’m sharing this recipe with you.

20150322_184242Buffalo Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese (adapted from this recipe on smitten kitchen, which was adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart–but the “buffalo” part is completely my husband & I’s creation)

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for pasta water
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/3 cup Buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Use 1 Tablespoon of the butter to grease a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.
  2. Heat the milk in a microwave safe measuring cup with a spout (like this one) until it is hot but not boiling (about 2 minutes, but your microwave might be different than mine). Melt the remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter in a Dutch oven (or large pot) over medium heat. When the butter is completely melted and starts to bubble, add the flour gradually by whisking constantly. Slowly pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Continue to cook (keep on whisking!) until the mixture is thickened (about 10 minutes).
  3. Remove the sauce from the heat. Add the salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese and 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese. Stir until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni for 3 minutes–it should be slightly soft on the outside but still crunchy in the middle. Transfer the macaroni to a colander and rinse with cool water. Drain thoroughly. Add the partially cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and mix well.
  5. Toss the shredded chicken with the wing sauce until well coated. Add about half of the macaroni & cheese mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle about half of the chicken over the top. Add the remaining half of the macaroni over the top of the chicken. Sprinkle the remaining half of the chicken over the top. Use a spoon (or your fingers) to poke some of the chicken down into the mac & cheese a little bit.
  6. In a medium bowl combine the remaining 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese, panko bread crumbs and olive oil. Sprinkle the cheese-panko mixture over the top of the casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes (until golden brown). Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Serves: 4-6

Time: 1 hour

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