So the Polar Vortex is back and I kind of wish I had no idea what that means. The teaser of warmer temperatures this weekend was just mean. Instead of sulking though I am going to embrace the colder temperatures and use my oven as much as possible, enjoying all of the meals and baking that come summertime just won't happen.
Up first is mac and cheese. Cheesy pasta jazzed up with buffalo chicken. I wanted to make Brussels Sprouts mac and cheese and Mr. J would not hear it. Somehow the compromise became buffalo chicken mac and cheese. Don't ask how logically that happened.
Anyway, this was definitely a team effort. I made the mac and cheese part. Mr. J headed up the buffalo chicken. In the end we combined both in a baking dish and popped it into the oven.
The results ended up as some of the best mac and cheese we ever created. Creamy, cheesy, and a bit spicy. Just enough to get the buffalo flavors but not too hot. Of course we lean towards the hot side of the scale so if you are not so adventurous you might want to cut back on spices and peppers.
What do you want to make in the oven before temperatures get too warm?
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: bake entree cheese chicken
Ingredients (serves 8)For the Buffalo Chicken:
- 1lb of chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
- 1/3 cup Sriracha
- 2 habaneros finely chopped - seeds included
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon vinegar (I've used red wine, white wine, and distilled white… all fine)
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Kosher salt
- Vegetable oil
- 8 oz elbow macaroni
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
For the buffalo chicken:
In a large sauce pan, put 1/2 of the butter (1/4 stick) and melt on medium high heat.
Add in habaneros and garlic and cook on medium until aromatic (about 3 minutes), stirring regularly - the longer you let the peppers cook at this stage the hotter the sauce will be.
Add in Frank's Hot Sauce, Sriracha, and remainder of butter, stir the butter in until melted.
Add in remainder of ingredients and stir until well combined.
Cook the sauce for about 5minutes, stirring regularly until the flavors are well combined and the sauce thickens.
Add in chicken and cook for another 8-10 minutes until cooked through. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.
Off the heat, add the, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well.
Add in the buffalo chicken mixture and fold into the mac and cheese. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
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