Friday, September 14, 2012

NomNom: Mac and Cheese with Buffalo Chicken

Everyone has their own comfort food. I definitely have a couple, with one being mac and cheese. When I was younger, I would make out of the box mac and cheese after I got home from school as a "snack"  quite frequently and it's kind of amazing that I didn't blow up as a child just from my mac and cheese indulges. Thanks mom and dad for my metabolism.

Whenever I come across a recipe for my favorite comfort food, my interest and curiosity peaks to no levels. But with mac and cheese, it's a bit of a gamble because the prep time to make it is time consuming so the trial and error part of finding that perfect recipe isn't very efficient. But if you think about it, finding that recipe is a bit like life. Stick with me for a bit--I have a point. You learn as you get older and hopefully wiser that life is a bit of trial and error and the road to get to that "aha" moment/recipe might take awhile and I see this parallel with my road to finding the perfect mac and cheese recipe. A trial and error. Yes.

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know that I'm a sucker for spicy food. This recipe has all the things that I love incorporated into this dish. The buffalo chicken is so, so perfect in this dish because the chicken along with the bites of cheesy mac you taste with a kick of spice from the hot sauce is pure comfort in one bite.

The hot sauce mixture set aside for the side is crucial for this dish. It really is necessary for this dish because once you spread half of the mixture in the casserole to bake, the sauce drys up a bit so you need a fresh reminder of that spicy kick from the saved hot sauce mixture.

Make this dish. Have a cold beer. It'll elevate your views on mac and cheese and make you fall in love with it all over again.

Have a great weekend. xo

Ingredients (Adapted from Bon Appetit) Serves 12 
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper 
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika 
1 1/2 tablespoons salt 
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin 
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander 
2 cups whole milk 
3 large eggs, beaten to blend 
4 cups cornflakes, ground to crumbs in processor 
1 pound chicken cutlets, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips 
Canola oil (for deep-frying) 

1 pound small elbow macaroni 
2 cups chopped green onions (about 8 large) 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano 
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided 
3 cups chopped onions 
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup all purpose flour 
4 cups whole milk 
1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 4 cups packed) 
8 ounces provolone cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 cups packed) 
2 teaspoons paprika 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1 cup hot pepper sauce (preferably Frank's RedHot Original)


1. Whisk first 6 ingredients in deep medium bowl to blend. Place milk in second bowl, eggs in third bowl, and ground cornflakes in fourth bowl.

2. Working with 4 chicken strips at a time, place in flour mixture and toss to coat. Dip same chicken strips into milk, then eggs, then cornflake crumbs, coating with each; arrange on sheet of foil.

3. Pour oil into heavy medium saucepan to depth of 2 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan; heat oil to 335°F to 350°F.

4. Working in batches, add coated chicken strips to hot oil and fry until golden and cooked through, turning occasionally, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken strips to paper towels to drain.

5. Cut strips into 1-inch-long pieces.


1. Cook macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain; transfer to very large bowl. Mix in green onions and oregano.

2. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in same large pot over medium heat. Add 3 cups chopped onions and garlic. Cover; sauté until onions are soft but not brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Add flour; stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer sauce 2 minutes. Add all cheeses, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.

3. Whisk until cheeses melt and sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired. Mix cheese sauce into macaroni. Mix in chicken pieces. Mound mixture in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. DO AHEAD Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir hot pepper sauce and remaining 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts; spoon 4 tablespoons over macaroni in dish. Bake macaroni uncovered until heated through, about 30 minutes, or 45 minutes if made ahead.

5. Serve, passing remaining butter and hot-sauce mixture separately.

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