Friday, May 14, 2010

Buff Mac

The ridiculous amounts of rain we've been receiving in this exceedingly gray May have at least borne a bounty of fruit, or more specifically vegetables in the garden. The garden's getting lush, as evidenced by this beauty of a pepper and that's a good thing, as the Empress Martha would say.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I was looking for an idea of what to cook. I consulted Keith and learned of his need for comfort food. In fact, he specifically suggested Baked Mac N' Cheese. I decided to go for a recipe I'd been intrigued by in Food Network magazine....Buffalo-Chicken Macaroni and Cheese. I admit, I couldn't quite wrap my brain around this dish. Would the heat steal the comfort? Would the hot sauce overwhelm the dish or turn the cheese runny? I had to go for was the melding of two of my favorite guilty pleasures..buffalo wings and mac n'cheese.

I have to say the dish turned out A-MAZ-ING. Perfect amount of heat combined with the perfect amount of cheesiness. Getting there was a bit of a comedic routine, though. The basis of the cheese sauce was essentially like creating a roux with the proper mix of flour and butter. The idea is to create a thickening agent but keeping from allowing the mixture to get lumpy. Lots of mixing and whisking and slow pouring and nerves frying. My, oh my, though....that cheese sauce was GORGEOUS when it was done. The aftermath, however, looked like those violent winds that passed through the area the other night had detoured right through the kitchen. I typically clean as I go but this process had me slingin' ingredients from one end of the stove to the other. The end result was delish and completely worth the chaos.

The recipe from Food Network magazine is as follows:

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese


7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank's)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 pound yellow sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.

Melt 2 tablespoons 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 hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.

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.

Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.


Anonymous said...

Ok. That sounds amazing. Daddy want one.

Lisa Mandina said...

Sounds delicious, but fattening, and way too much work for this lazy cook. :-) I'd be willing to come over and sample it though.

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