Macaroni Monday

I use this Macaroni Monday feature purely to give into my first love of Mac n Cheese.  The problem is each new recipe becomes my favorite.

This recipe is from Mac & Cheese – 80 Classic & Creative versions of the Ultimate Comfort Food.

No substitutions were made.

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Chicken and Broccoli Mac and Cheese

2 c chicken stock
1/2 lb fresh broccoli crowns, cut into 3/4 inch florets
1/2 lb cavatappi
1/4 c unsalted butter
3 tblsp all-purpose flour
3/4 c half-and-half, warmed
1/2 c heavy cream, warmed
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon (sub 1 tsp dried)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
5 oz Emmental, grated, divided
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan
4 oz diced cooked chicken or turkey
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 c panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 13×9 baking pan. (I used a 9-inch baking dish.)  Have a bowl of ice water handy.

Place the stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil the stock until it is reduced by half.  Set aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the broccoli and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender.  Remove the broccoli from the pot with a strainer and plunge it into the ice water to stop the cooking action.

Bring the water back to a boil.  Cook the pasta until it is just beginning to soften to the al dente stage.  Drain the pasta, run it under cold water, and return it to the pot.  Drain the broccoli, and add it to the pot with the pasta.

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Heat the butter in a saucepan over med-low heat.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until the mixture turns slightly beige, is bubbly and appears to have grown in volume.  Increase the heat to medium, and slowly whisk in the reduced stock, warm half-and-half and cream.  Bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Reduce the heat to low, stir in the tarragon and nutmeg, and simmer the sauce for 2 minutes.

Reserve 1/2 c of the Emmental.  Add the remaining cheese to the sauce by 1/2 cup measures, stirring until the cheese melts before making another addition.  Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the chicken and stir well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and transfer the pasta to the prepared pan.  Mix the reserved Emmental and breadcrumbs together, and sprinkle it over the top of the dish.

Bake the casserole for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubble and the crumbs on top are a deep brown.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then serve.

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cartoon-strawberry-9Mac n Cheese with protein AND veggies?  It’s so good.  I served it with some salad on the side, just to add a little crunch.  I’d never heard of or had Emmental cheese before, its a light Swiss cheese.  Thankfully, Trader Joes carries all the cheeses I haven’t heard of and might need.

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