Well, Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone leaving me with great memories, a slight hangover, lots of leftovers, and the H1N1 virus. Yes, I have the plague. Okay, maybe not the plague, but it sure feels like it.
I am going to make this short and sweet since I need to get myself back to the couch. I have been wanting to make homemade macaroni and cheese for quite a while now, and the only thing stopping me was not wanting to know the exact quantities of butter and cheese it contained. After I saw Ina Garten's recipe though, I said 'screw it, I'm makin mac and cheese'.
I made a few edits as usual, eliminating the tomatoes (who needs vegetables right?) and added grilled chicken and mushrooms. It was so decadent and delicious, and I could really go for some right now. This made two pans of mac and cheese, and it actually froze quite well.
If you have been thinking about making homemade macaroni and cheese, do it, do it now. You will not regret it, at least not until you get the scale out. Half a pan of macaroni and cheese in one sitting is considered moderation right?
Macaroni and Cheese with Grilled Chicken and Mushrooms
adapted from Ina Garten's Macaroni and Cheese
2 Chicken breast halves
1 lb mushrooms, diced
1 lb cavatappi pasta
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all purpose flour
12 ounces grated gruyere cheese
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and grill over medium heat until cooked through. Let the chicken cool, dice small, and set aside.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat and add mushrooms. Saute until cooked through, and slightly crisped, about 12-15 minutes. Set aside to let cool.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add the pasta and cook according to directions on package, 6-8 minutes. Drain completely.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan being careful not to boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot over low heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously for about two minutes.
Add the milk slowly, whisking until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and add the cheese, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and the nutmeg.
Look at all that cheese....mmmm.
Add drained pasta, chicken, and mushrooms and stir to coat.
Pour mixture into one large (3 quart) baking dish or two smaller ones (1-2 quarts). Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter and combine with the breadcrumbs and parmesean cheese. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the macaroni and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is brown and bubbly.
There is nothing better than homemade mac and cheese. This has to be in my top five favorite foods EVER, please give it a try. Here's hoping none of you get the flu this winter, but if you do, just make some mac and cheese and settle in on the couch.