Today, I scored…
I used 3 different cheeses, all creamy, good melters. I used almost a pound of cheese and that amount created a gooey sauce even with some absorption by the pasta while baking.
I don’t measure as accurately as I should or if I were a professional recipe creator… but this is approximately (measurement-wise) what I did:
2 Chicken Breasts – Pounded flat
EVOO and Bacon Grease for sauteing the chicken
Salt and Pepper
Flour for coating the chicken
16 ounces uncooked pasta (I use whatever I have on hand – today I used Private Selection “Italian Gigli” – a sort of conch shaped pasta)
Salt to taste for pasta water
Mini Sweet Bell Peppers – Chopped – I used 3; you can adjust to taste or substitute with veggies you prefer.
6 ounces Fontina – Shredded
6 ounces BeeHive Promontory – Shredded
4 ounces Lustenberger 1862 – Shredded
2 ounces butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup Panko
2 ounces butter – melted
Butter to coat baking dish
Shred the cheeses and toss together. I use different cheeses, mostly choosing from whatever happens to be in the fridge. I keep blocks and wedges of various Fontinas in the fridge all the time (one of my “everyday cheese”), for cooking when the whim strikes. The Lustenbergr 1862 was a gift from a fellow monger friend, Stephen and Beehive’s Promontory, an Irish-style cheese that I profiled this month for the American Cheese Society. All three of these cheeses were great melters and the amount, while it sounds like a lot, created a gooey, creamy sauce – The Man swooned.
Pound the chicken breasts flat and salt and pepper generously. Cut into smaller pieces. Drag pieces through flour to coat.
Heat equal amounts of EVOO and bacon grease in a fry pan – about 2 teaspoons each.
Saute chicken breasts over medium heat until cooked through and coating is browned. Cut into bite-size pieces and set aside. (Do not rinse fry pan.)
While chicken is sauteing, boil water and cook pasta until just al dente. Remove from heat, drain, but do not rinse.
In fry pan, melt 2 ounces of butter with the remaining oil and drippings.
Add the bell peppers to the oil, butter and drippings mixture. Cook peppers until soft. Remove and set aside.
Make your roux:
Add flour and cook in frying pan for a couple of minutes to remove floury taste.
Add milk to butter and flour mixture. Cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until thickened.
Add cheese to roux and mix until cheese is melted and mixed well with roux to create your cheese sauce.
In buttered baking dish add the pasta, chicken and bell peppers.
Top pasta mixture with cheese sauce.
Mix panko with 2 ounces of melted butter.
Top mac n cheese with panko and butter mixture.
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes until bubbling and panko is golden brown.
Let sit for 10 minutes.