This meal is a marriage of many wonderful things.
Pasta? Love. Cheese? Love. Chicken? Love. Buffalo flavor? Love. (Am I channeling Joey from FRIENDS?)
I used pre-cooked, home-ground chicken that I already had in the fridge, though for aesthetic reasons, in the future, I will shred or cube my chicken for this recipe.
I had both my brother and cousin (both 25) taste it before it was oven ready, and they liked the buffalo flavor. So, without further delay, here is my first recipe!
Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
- 12 oz Ronzoni Smart Taste Elbow Macaroni
- 2 tbsp butter
- ¼ c flour
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- 12 oz cooked chicken breast, cubed or shredded (depending on your preference!)
- 2 cups skim milk
- ½ cup fat free chicken broth
- ½ – ¾ cup hot sauce (to taste)
- 2 cups shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar (I used Stop & Shop Brand)
- pepper to taste (I skip the salt, hot sauce is high in sodium)
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- cooking spray
- Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. (You want it to still be slightly firm so it doesn’t fall apart in the baking process.) Drain pasta and set aside.
- Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add the garlic and celery, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined.
- Whisk in ½ cup of hot sauce and simmer until mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- Add milk and chicken broth and whisk, raising the heat slightly until the mixture comes to a boil. Cook about 5 minutes, whisking until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. **This may possibly look a little “ugly” when you add the milk to the hot sauce mixture. To me, it looked as though the milk was separating. Keep whisking & cooking, it will go away.** Season with pepper, to taste.
- Once the sauce is thick, remove from heat. Add cheese to skillet and stir until it is completely melted. (If you would like some extra heat, add ¼ c of hot sauce.) Then, add cooked macaroni and chicken breast and mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and garlic powder, and spray a little more cooking spray on top.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for a few minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to golden.