I finally feel like things are back to normal around here! I’m still working on wedding thank you notes (ugh) but all the gifts have been put away and we returned all the duplicate items. Oh and WE GOT A STAND MIXER! I’m so excited about this. I have a list of recipes I have been dying to try but felt like I couldn’t because all I have is a small hand mixer. I mean, I now have a dough hook! I’m just beside myself over this and can’t wait to get started on my recipe list. And now that I’ve blabbed about one of my (many) new toys, I want to present a recipe that doesn’t involve a stand mixer.
If you can’t already tell, I am somewhat partial to mac & cheese of any variety. I haven’t tried every recipe out there, but I’ve tried a few and this is one of my favorites. WH loves mac and cheese too (pasta, duh) and this recipe is also high on his list of must-haves. It is a Rachel Ray recipe, and I’ve got to say, the first time I made it I felt like a chicken with my head cut off in the kitchen. I even had my mom helping and it was rough. But since that time I’ve made it a lot and I feel like I’ve finally perfected it.
Well, except for the roux. I just can’t seem to get it perfectly each time. Usually, it ends up a little grainy/floury and thin, but on a good day, I can fake a perfect roux. The original recipe serves 6. If you’ve ever made a Rachel Ray recipe, she seems to be cooking for 6 people who can eat enough for 12. So for this recipe, I usually half the chicken, pasta, and broccoli ingredients, but keep the 6 serving cheese sauce measurements. We like our mac and cheese very cheesy.
The recipe is below and if anyone has any tips for making a perfect roux, please pass them on 🙂
Mac & Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli
Serves 3 to 4
Stuff you need:
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 lb. chicken tenders, cut into bite size chunks
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/2 lb. cavatappi, gemelli, or macaroni noodles
- 1 & 1/4 c. broccoli florets (about 2 small heads)
For cheese sauce:
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 3 c. whole milk
- 1 c. chicken broth
- 2 & 1/2 c. shredded cheddar (from the bag is fine, this time i used a combo of freshly shredded white and yellow cheddar)
What to do with that stuff:
- Bring large pot of water to boil.
- Heat medium skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add oil and chicken and season with salt and pepper.
- Saute a couple of minutes and add onion.
- Cook until onions are tender and chicken is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
- Turn off heat and set aside.
- To boiling water, add salt, then pasta and cook 3 minutes.
- Add broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Drain pasta and broccoli and put back in pot and add chicken and onions to pasta.
- While pasta cooks, make a roux:
- Heat medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add butter and let melt.
- Then add flour, cayenne, paprika and whisk together until roux bubbles.
- Whisk in milk and broth and raise the heat a little.
- Bring sauce to a quick boil.
- Simmer to thicken, about 5 minutes.
- Add cheese to milk sauce and stir to melt.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour cheese sauce over pasta mixture.