Friday, March 22, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese for 2 People

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OH MY was this ever good.  The chicken can be spiced as much as you like.  Add a little or a lot.  The measurement I gave was perfect for me as well as for my more sensitive wife.  Just enough to know you have eaten something good!

For those of you paying attention, this is my third post of a challenge...

During the last two recipes, Cheesy Savory Chicken Monkey Bread for 2 People and  Chicken Salad Roll-Ups for 2 People, I gave you my more detailed goals and reasons for the next several days worth of posts... A single Rotisserie Chicken...
  • Eat Well...
  • Recipes for 2 people...
  • See what type of variety I can get from the single bird...
  • Keep track of costs (and keep them low)
  • Make my recipes "inexperienced cook" friendly with additional details and photos so that indeed, Anyone Can Cook This!

So, as to this recipe... It is eating well. Spicy chicken and extra cheesy pasta, even including hints of blue cheese for you Buffalo chicken wing fans. This is my first main course that I am making from this particular bird.  I have already shown a side dish and a breakfast... variety. I will break down the costs at the end of the post, but this easily can be made for under $2.50 per serving and that includes the price of the chicken.

And finally, next I will post the recipe (keep scrolling down). But after that I will have more details that experienced cooks may not need to see, but if you are cooking with a pre-cooked rotisserie bird for the first time, you may want to glance through the extra photos and instructional tips after the recipe.

OK... Here's what I did...

Buffalo Chicken
Mac and Cheese
for 2 People

  • 1/2 Pound Pasta, I like a spiral shape to hold more of the cheese
  • 1 TBS Butter
  • 1 TBS Flour
  • 2/3 Cup Half and Half
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese, reserve a couple TBS for garnish
  • 1/4 Cup Firmly Packed freeshly grated Cheddar Jack Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
  • A couple of turns of a Pepper Grinder
  • 1 TBS Butter
  • 1 tsp Tabasco Brand hot sauce (to taste)
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • Meat 1 Breast from 1 Rotisserie Chicken diced, just a bit less than 2 Cups
  • 1 tsp Fresh Herbs, minced (Chives, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, etc.) for garnish
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh made bread crumbs
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Make the pasta according to the directions on the box BUT, cook al dente which means about 1 minute less than the package directions say. You will finish cooking the pasta in the oven with the hot cheese sauce.
  3. Meanwhile, make a roux by heating the butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and stir until combined and the color shifts slightly to beige. This will only take about 2 minutes, but you MUST STIR the entire time.
  4. Add the half and half and stir until heated and combined with the roux.
  5. Add the cheese in 4 batches, stirring to blend. Do not add additional cheese until each batch melts
  6. By this time, the pasta should be ready. Drain and add the pasta to the cheese mix, stir to combine cover, turn heat to low and allow to slow simmer while you make the buffalo chicken
  7. in a small saute pan, combine the butter, Tabasco Sauce and Vinegar. Stir to combine until butter is melted and the sauce is hot.
  8. Add the chicken to to sauce and stir to combine. Continue stirring until the chicken has been completely coated and all of the sauce has been combined.
  9. Add the chicken to the pasta and cheese and mix to combine.
  10. Transfer to a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on the top, Sprinkle the herb of choice on the top.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for about 6 minutes until the top has become crispy and just a hint of browning. The pasta, sauce and chicken is already cooked. All you are doing is crisping the top for varied texture and the look of slightly toasted.
  12. Serve HOT and Enjoy!

OK, for this recipe we are using breast meat. While in the last couple of days I have used thigh meat and explained that the thigh meat is best whenever you cook with a pre-cooked rotisserie bird; it seems that I am breaking thsi rule.  But, in fact the chicken while baked slightly at the end in order to crisp the top, the chicken is not in the oven long enough to actually cook further.  In addition, the chicken is soaked in a vinegar/butter/Tabasco sauce prior to the short baking time.  This additional liquid also helps to add moisture to the chicken.  So the little changes in the moistness of the meat is offset by the additional moisture added.

Make sense?

The breast meat separates easily from the bones.  Just make an initial cut along the back bone and dig in with your hands and pull.  As always, check to be sure that any stray bones and gristle is removed. BTW, IMPORTANT... save all the bones. You will be making Chicken Stock from the bird later this week.

When you start to dice, make each piece about the same size.  Also try to make each piece about the same size as the pasta shapes.  Will taste better when evenly mixed.
Alright, the pasta has been cooked.  Again, al dente which means slightly under cooked.  Use the directions on the box, but cut the boiling time by one or two minutes.  The pasta finishes cooking in the cheese sauce.

I went into small details on making the buffalo sauce and coating the chicken.  Just measure carefully and keep gently turning (not too rough or the chicken shreds) in the sauce until everything is absorbed.

You can easily skip the baking step if you like.  Thus making this a stove top mac and cheese and it is still delicious.

But by adding the bread crumbs and baking, the dish becomes something better than ordinary.  the extra crisping adds a texture.  The crumbs brown up nicely with that beautiful golden brown and delicious look.  It also allows you to bake in a serving dish so the dish can go from oven to table top pretty.

Presentation is always important.

the extra garnish of the herbs really does not add a lot of flavor, but always adding contrasting color is a good thing.  If you do not have fresh herbs, a sprinkle of paprika will work as well.

As to the cost...

Now this is a little difficult as how much does a couple of TBS of bread crumbs cost? So, instead of figuring pennies, let's just agree that pantry items (like butter, flour, sugar, spices) will not be included. Also, I am cheap and I almost always buy things on sale. Case in point, this recipe calls for dry pasta. If I were going to the store to buy them for a recipe I was going to make today, I would probably buy a generic brand to save money. BUT if you watch the sales like I do and buy extras when I see a good price, you can get a name brand, not at the normal $2.50 a box but for $0.99 cents a box. Same with the Cheese... At my store, every week a cheese goes on sale.  you can buy it in brick form inexpensively as long as you shop ahead.. The prices I am listing are real, but are on the low side as I am cheap and I shop sales and buy extras when I see a good price.  Also certain items are very cheap at the warehouse store I shop, case in point, Half and Half for $4.50 for 4 Cups.

Pantry items, Flour, Herbs, Vinegar, Butter, and Tabasco. I make bread crumbs from stale bread so no charge/pantry item.

1/5th of the chicken......... @... $1.00
1/2 a box of Pasta..... ......@...$0.50
3 Cheeses........................@...$3.00
3/4 Cup Half and Half......@...$1.50

Total Cost...................@,,,$5.00 or less than $2.50 a serving.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this... Cheesy, meaty and wonderful spices!

As to the challenge... So far I have only used two chicken thighs and now a single breast for a breakfast and a fancy tasty sandwich and this main course meal in itself with plenty of meat left to go.

Very easy, DELICIOUS and ... certainly fits well with my goals.

Stay tuned, come on back tomorrow and see what else I make from the single bird!


This recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Uses For a Rotisserie Chicken"  (Now close to 100!)...I am so confused... $5.49 for a fully cooked, fully seasoned Oven Roasted, Rotisserie Chicken. Yet shop in the raw meat department and most raw chickens are at best $8 each and usually far closer to $10. Anyone have an answer??? Me either. So, I can either rail against the machine, or learn to embrace the beauty that is the $5 chicken! In this pin are recipes I have made, and recommend. MORE than 52 (I just can't stop)..
You get the idea.  From Scratch Pizza to Chinese Take Out recipes, Lots of Soups and Chili... Appetizers to Main Courses (Still can't find a dessert, but I am looking).  More than enough ideas for that store nought bird to shine with just a little extra work


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1 comment:

  1. What a great use for rotisserie chicken - my girls will LOVE this!
    Mary x