Monday, March 21, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

I admit it, I HATE mac & cheese! And no, it doesn’t matter if it is boxed or homemade… Actually none of us will eat the stuff!

Now that you have gotten over the shock and horror of this confession, you will notice that this a recipe for mac & cheese. We do however really like buffalo wings, a LOT! So when I saw this at Sweet Anna’s blog I decided to give it a shot. After all, I’ve always felt like I SHOULD like mac & cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food! What’s not to like???

Thanks to the buffalo sauce kick (yup, it’s pretty spicy) and the fact that I discovered I can make a gorgeous cheese sauce (who would have guessed???), we really did enjoy it! It was perfect with celery sticks dipped in blue cheese dressing!

Like always, I made a couple of minor changes to the original recipe. Being on a tight budget and really not liking super rich cream sauces (I know, I know…), I cut back on a few things. So if you’d like the unadulterated (and I am sure much richer and yummier) version, check it out HERE. :o) Otherwise, here it is…

1 cube butter, divided

1 pound of rotini pasta, cooked and drained

1/4 cup chopped onion

1-2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

2 cups of cooked chicken meat, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cloves of minced garlic

1 cup of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce (watch out, this stuff is spicy!)

2 Tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

3 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

2/3 cup sour cream

1 cup panko bread crumbs

Butter a 9x13 glass baking dish and layer one half of the pasta into the bottom of the casserole dish.

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Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Saute onion and celery until tender. Add garlic and continue to saute until tender. Stir in chicken and 3/4 cup Buffalo sauce. Let simmer until slightly reduced.

buffalo mac 01 Make a cheese sauce by melting 2 Tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. After butter is melted, stir in flour and mustard until smooth. Add milk and cream all at once and whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining 1/4 cup of Buffalo sauce. Continue to whisk until thick. Remove from heat and whisk in cheeses and sour cream until smooth.

Top the pasta with the chicken mixture. Cover with remaining pasta. Pour cheese sauce evenly over the top.

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Melt the last 2 Tablespoons of butter in a small saute pan. Add the bread crumbs, stirring until panko has absorbed the butter. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta.

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Bake at 350 about 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and the top is golden brown.

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