I think that 3 of the 5 lbs. I gained over the holidays were pockets of Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese dispersed all over my body. Yup. Definitely.
It was our Clinton Christmas Party – on a Saturday night, which never happens – dress theme was “Shiny & Bright” – gift theme was “Naughty or Nice in the bedroom” (Mom if you’re reading this I got a lovely fleece blanket – swear to god) – food was a free for all, a delicious free for all, that included my dream meal – Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese. My friend Katie made it, and boy did she hit the nail on the head. After about three heaping plates full and two days of heartburn, I knew it was blog worthy.
And only about a month later, here it is folks.
Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
*Adapted from The Food Network & my friend Katie VaJanda
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1 pound elbow macaroni
(I actually used cavatappi, cuz’ it’s fun and twisty)
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 and 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
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) In a separate saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter 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.
4) In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked pasta, the onion/celery/garlic/chicken mixture and then the cheese mixture and mix together with a spatula. Place mixture in a greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
5) Put the remaining 4 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.