Monday, October 22, 2012

Chicken & Broccoli Mac n Cheese

Wanna make me happy?
Put a big bowl of creamy mac n cheese in my face.  I'm a simple gal.
It ranks up there with one of my favorite meals - a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy (nope, not even kidding, simply mashed potatoes, its been done)

Just pass me a fork.
ahhh who am I kiddin, I use a spoon, you can hold wayyyy more on a spoon.

I never bake it with a crumb topping as I have seen others do, the creamier the better.
Usually the sauce is seasoned with dry mustard, worchestershire, salt and pepper, simplicity at its finest.
And there's nothing better than the traditional sharp cheddar cheese either.
Except when you're into experimenting.
Not the kind like when you're in high school and someone passes you a glass and says here, try this - that's unsafe
This, totally safe.  And good.  Really good.
Unconventional but hey, that's what cooking is all about right?

This takes the kid friendly, comfort promoting dish you may be accustomed to and adds a little "adult" flare.

I'm listening to:  Jack & Diane, John Melloncamp

Chicken & Broccoli Mac n Cheese

2 pre cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 head broccoli cut into small florets
small pasta shells
11/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar & 1/2 c. mozzarella
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. milk
1 c. chicken stock
1 tbsp. fresh thyme
2 tsp. cumin
salt & fresh cracked pepper

A few steps are avoided if you have leftover chicken breasts, you could use a quick pick up rotisserie chicken from the store too or simply bake some chicken off ahead of time.

Wash and chop your broccoli into small florets, you want them to be slightly larger than your shells.
Set aside.
Chop your cooked chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes (I find it easier to chop chicken if it has been chilled)

Next, have a large pot of water boiling and add a few pinches of sea salt.
Add in your pasta (I didn't give an amount because it is really a matter of how much you plan to make - the sauce will make enough to serve 4-6) and stir right away to make sure the pasta doesn't stick.
Note - since you will finish in the sauce you cook to the instructions on your package less 2 minutes.
About 4-5 minutes in you are going to add your broccoli to the pasta to cook alongside.

The sauce only takes a few minutes to prepare so you can start that step just before you add the broccoli to the pasta.
In a saucepan melt butter on medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, which will then form a paste.  Cook this for a minute or two to get rid of the flour taste.  Add in the cumin and thyme.  Slowly stir in half of the chicken stock (mixing with a whisk is easier than a spoon to achieve a smooth consistency) and the milk and bring to a boil - it will start to thicken.  Add in more of the stock as you see fit - some like it really thick, some a more thinner sauce.
Finally add in your cheeses and stir to combine.
Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Drain pasta and broccoli and then return to the pot, spoon in the sauce and add chicken.
Serve hot.

Obviously not MY dish...I woulda used a spoon ;)

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  1. That looks really delish. I agree simple is often best, but I'm not sure, if I would want to have the bowl right in my face ... that would be a bit messy.

    1. thanks Chris - I'm down with messy, you should see me eat chicken wings or ribs! ;)

  2. Looks sooooo good Katrin!! I am starving and Kevin won't be home for a while so I may just sit here and lick my screen LOL

  3. Seriously? I tought I was the only one to go for a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy, and, obviously, eating it with a large spoon (the more the merrier). And what about that mac'n'cheese... Definitely going on this weeks menu :D
    Thank you.

    1. we must be two peas in a pod Louise....big fan of the tators!

  4. When I saw this on FB, I was in seeing it again and reading the recipe...I'm in Love!! xo Ally

  5. Big bowl of mac n'cheese in front of me, and I am a happy girl too! Love your delicious addition of broccoli, YUM! Hugs, Terra

  6. Wonder if the milk could be fat free and the chicken stock also. Just thought it might reduce some of the calories...

    1. Absolutely. I only use 1% milk at home for consumption and there are varieties of low fat/low sodium chicken stock. I make my own stock so I can control what goes in it but you dont need to :)
      Thanks for the comment!