Servings : Serves 4-5
Here's a twist to my regular Mac n Cheese recipe, elevating the famous and classic dish to heightened levels of flavour. It is rich, creamy and incredibly satisfying.
- 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (250gm)
- 125 gm boneless chicken breast or thigh, cubed
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1/4 tsp garlic paste
- 1/4 tsp paprika powder
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional for extra heat)
- 1 green or red chilli, chopped
- 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 3 cups semi-skim or whole milk
- 1 egg (optional for added richness)
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs or pangritata (seasoned breadcrumbs, recipe in instructions below)
Boil the macaroni slightly under what they would take to fully cook. Drain and set aside. Put the drain cheddar and mozzarella cheese in a bowl and mix them together, then set this aside.
Heat the oil in a pan, add the chopped onion and fry until translucent. Add the garlic, followed by the pieces of chicken. Season with salt, pepper and add the oregano, paprika and chopped green chilli. Stir fry for about 3-5 minutes or until the chicken is lightly brown and cooked tender. Add the fresh coriander and stir it in. Remove the cooked chicken onto a bowl and keep covered.
In the same pan, add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the flour and stir it on low heat for 2 minutes. Cooking the flour in the butter helps reduce the 'raw' smell of the flour so don't skip this step! Slowly whisk in milk, if you pour the milk in too quickly you will form lumps, so add gradually whilst whisking briskly to get rid of any lumps and form a smooth roux/mixture. Keep whisking on medium to low heat until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Then remove from the heat and add salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
Put the egg in a bowl and whisk it lightly, then take about a quarter cup from the hot white sauce and drizzle it slowly into the egg while whisking quickly with a fork. This will temper the egg so that it doesn't scramble and cook when it goes into the white sauce. Then slowly pour this eggy mixture back into the pan of white sauce, whisking continuously as it goes in. If you are not using the egg, simply skip this step. Add a quarter cup of the mixed cheese and whisk it in.
Mix this rich sauce with the boiled macaroni and the cooked chicken until well combined. Pour it all into a pan that has been greased lightly with butter. Top with the remaining grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese plus the breadcrumbs.
In case you opt for the seasoned breadcrumbs (pangritata) instead of the regular ones, you can find the recipe link HERE.
Preheat the oven at 180 C. Once oven is hot, bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Allow the dish to sit for about 10-15 minutes to allow the cheese sauce to set before serving.