When it’s this cold outside all I want all day are warm meals, staring with oatmeal in the am to a cup of soup for lunch and some comfort food for dinner. Homemade Mac and cheese is such a great comfort food casserole and by adding some baked chicken at the end you have a complete meal. (Ok add a veggie side dish as well). You don’t have to bake this mac and cheese recipe either, I just added it to the oven for a while as I added a Ritz cracker topping. Yummy.
There is no need to feel intimated making mac and cheese, while it may take a little time it is so much better than the boxed variety. Don’t get me wrong I always have a box or two in the house so the kids can make a quick snack or dinner but when it’s family dinner homemade mac and cheese is the only way to go.
This might looked burnt but this roué has spices in it. This is the hardest part of homemade mac and cheese, you just have to commit to standing around a little.
We used low fat milk so it took a little longer to thicken but saving the calories is always nice.
Cook your chicken and onions at the same time and they will be nice a flavored vs just putting in baked chicken from the oven.
Sorry for the bad photos on this. Adding the cheese is the fun part. I like to use block cheese that I shred before but do what ever is easiest for you.
I topped this comfort food with butter and ritz cracker topping and drizzled a little hot sauce for an extra kick before serving.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound chicken breasts chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 pound macaroni elbows
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 3 cups skim milk
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3 cups yellow sharp cheddar
- 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard
- Optional 6 ritz crackers and
- Heat a medium pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add oil,, and chicken and season with salt and pepper. Sauté a couple of minutes, then add onion and cook another 5-7 minutes until onions are tender and chicken is cooked through. Turn off heat and reserve.
- To boiling pasta water, add pasta and salt to season the cooking water. Cook until al dente.
- While pasta cooks, heat a medium saucepot over medium heat. Add butter and melt, then add flour, cayenne and paprika and whisk together over heat until roux bubbles; then cook a minute more. Whisk in milk and stock and raise heat a little to bring sauce to a quick boil. Simmer sauce to thicken, about five minutes (longer for skim milk)
- Drain macaroni or pasta Add back to pot and add chicken to the pasta.
- Add cheese to milk sauce and stir to melt it in, about a minute or so. Stir in mustard and season sauce with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken and cooked pasta and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings, transfer to a large casserole dish and place in oven to keep warm or to brown topping if using.
For the Topping:
15 Ritz crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Mix together and place onto mac and cheese casserole.