Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

When Jason comes down from SF to visit me in LA, I like to send him off with huge portions of freezer-friendly foods because once he’s back up north, he won’t have time to cook. So I began to look for hearty meals that would provide him with plenty of sustenance and nourishment as he’s pulling all-nighters for class projects and building models left and right. So as I’m perusing through foodgawker, this recipe immediately catches my eye. I mean the title speaks for itself!

Now making this definitely took a bit of work as there were 3 parts to it (well, 4 parts if you count boiling water and throwing in some pasta). The first part is making the crumb topping, which just consists of tossing some melted butter, breadcrumbs, blue cheese, and some chopped parsley. Sounds easy enough, right? The second part is sautéing the shredded chicken with a little bit of garlic and then coating them with hot sauce. The third part is making the creamy cheese mixture with a combination of sharp cheddar and pepper jack (I highly recommend using Trader Joe’s jalapeno pepper jack). Then you assemble these three parts layer upon layer to create the most amazing dish of all.

Once you take that first bite of cheesy-buffalo goodness with that spicy aftertaste complemented by that crispy panko-bleu cheese topping, you’ll forget all about your troubles. It is simply divine. That’s why they call it comfort food, right?

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese (adapted from Tidy Mom):

Yields 12 servings

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 pound (3 1/2 cups) sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 3-quart baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, about 7 minutes; drain well.

In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, Panko, blue cheese and parsley; set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the chicken and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot; simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate. (I didn’t really have excess sauce at this point.)

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the saucepan. Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth, about 1 minute.

Gradually whisk in both the milk and cream, adding the remaining 1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has begun to thicken, about 2 minutes.

Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.

Whisk in the sour cream until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish.*

Top with the chicken mixture.

Top with remaining macaroni.

Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the macaroni.

Sprinkle the bread crumb topping evenly over the top.

Place into oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*Note: The baking dish wasn’t large enough to hold everything so I baked the leftovers in tall 10-ounce ramekins.

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