This Buffalo chicken baked mac and cheese can be assembled in advance and baked later, letting you serenely pull off dinner for 10 and making it look effortless. No one has to know that your kitchen looked like a hurricane hit it a few days earlier.
My intentions are always to practice mis en place, choose the right pot the first time, be efficient, and clean as I go, but somehow I end up creating a big mess.
That's one of the reasons I'm excited to have an opportunity to participate in a blog tour and review a new cookbook, The Make-Ahead Kitchen by Annalise Thomas of the blog Sweet Anna's. Disclosure: In exchange for participating, I will be receiving a complimentary copy of the book. Opinions are my own.
It's a lovely book filled with breakfasts, soups & salads, snacks, main courses, and desserts. Some of the recipes I'm looking forward to trying include the cinnamon rolls, the roasted veggie & ham overnight egg bake, and the slow cooker pineapple coconut chicken curry.
Most of the recipes are focused on feeding six to 10 people, which makes them perfect for family gatherings, brunches, and casual dinner parties. The focus is family friendly comfort food.
This Buffalo Chicken Baked Mac and Cheese definitely fit the bill.
I'm a huge fan of anything spicy, so this recipe was a natural. Plus, how can you not like macaroni and cheese?! One of my favorite parts was the crunchy panko bread crumb topping.
Serve this casserole with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing for the taste of Buffalo!
Buffalo Chicken Baked Mac and CheeseRecipe from The Make Ahead Kitchen by Annalise Thomas
One pound pasta. I used small penne, but elbow macaroni or shells would be good too.
For the chicken:
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large celery stalks, including tops, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup of Buffalo style hot sauce, such as Frank's Red Hot Original
For the cheese sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/4 cup Buffalo style hot sauce
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used sharp white cheddar)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded pepper jack cheese
2/3 cup sour cream
For the topping:
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped celery leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9 inch by 13 inch baking dish with spray oil.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions, but one minute less. Drain and set aside.
- In a 4 quart saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and celery, and saute until softened and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and 1 cup of the Buffalo sauce, and simmer until the sauce slightly thickens. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.
- In the same pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Sprinkle with the flour and mustard and stir constantly until the mixture is golden brown. Slowly add the chicken stock and half and half while constantly whisking the mixture until the flour mixture is fully incorporated. Add 1/4 cup of the Buffalo sauce. Simmer the sauce while stirring until the sauce thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon.
- Turn off the heat and add the cheeses and sour cream. Stir until combined. Add the noodles and stir.
- Spread one half of the noodle mixture on the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the chicken mixture on top of the noodles and top with the rest of the noodle mixture.
- In a small bowl, combine two tablespoons of melted butter with the panko and sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes, until bubbly and golden.
- Sprinkle with the chopped celery leaves and serve.
Make ahead: Assemble the dish up through step 7, wrap well, and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, partially defrost for about an hour, and then bake at 350 degrees F, adding more time to heat thoroughly.