Monday, July 9, 2007

Creamy Mac, Chicken and Cheese

Feeling a little under the weather, I made this for dinner this past Friday night. I love this meal. Love love love it. This is what I imagine I would make for people that were home-bound sick or freshly babied or something. Its certainly what I would want if I was in either situation (hinthint). What's really cool about it is that it reheats beautifully, so we had this for lunch both days of the weekend.

I normally make it with bowtie, but I couldn't find any in the organic section this time around. While I can't remember the specific name of the pasta I did use, it looks like little, broken-up versions of lasagna noodles.... if that helps!

Doesn't really matter which pasta you go with, because it all marries together with the creamy, cheese sauce, the chicken (I use meat pulled from a store-bought rotisserie chicken), and the spinach. I love that spinach is included, because then you get the added vegetable element. Sure, its only a few ounces, but it counts!

Don't leave out the hot sauce. It gives it a little kick that you can't quite place without giving it any heat.

When you're feeling blue, or you know someone that is, make this casserole!! You or they will brighten right up!

Creamy Mac, Chicken, and Cheese
From: Fresh Every Day, by Sara Foster

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering baking dish
½ pound short bite-sized pasta, such as penne, ziti, shells, bow ties, or orecchiette
2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
3 ½ cups cooked shredded chicken(from 3 ½ to 4-lb roasted chicken)
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
½ cup Parmesan cheese (about 1 ½ ounces)
8 ounces fresh spinach, washed, stems
removed, and drained (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
1 to 2 tablespoons hot sauce (Tabasco or Texas Pete)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander and transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and toss to coat.

Melt the butter with the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t brown.

Stir in the milk and the cream, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by half and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes (has taken me a bit longer, both times)

Remove the sauce from the heat and add the chicken, Cheddar, Parmesan, spinach, marjoram, hot sauce, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Stir until the cheeses have melted and the spinach is wilted. Pour into the bowl with the pasta and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Taste for salt and pepper and season with more to taste.

Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish, scraping all the sauce out of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and bake for about 45 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the pasta is slightly brown on top. Let the pasta rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Serves 8 to 10


Kristen said...

My kids, husband and I would all love this! Delicious looking meal.

Deborah said...

This looks like a wonderful, hearty meal. Saved!!

Anonymous said...

Yummy!! Thanks for the recipe!!!