Thursday, July 17, 2008

Whip It Up week 2: Leftover chicken macaroni & cheese casserole

8 oz macaroni
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 C milk
12 oz cheese of choice (I used sharp cheddar), chopped into smallish bits (saves time over shredding IMHO)
2 T ground mustard and/or deli-style mustard
1 t garlic powder
1 C cooked chicken, cut up
2 T breadcrumbs

Prepare half (8 oz) of a 16-oz (1 lb) package of macaroni, cooking it al dente to the lower end of the cooking estimate (so it doesn't get too soggy once you boil it later)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In the mean time:
- melt 2 T butter in a saucepan over low heat
- once butter is completely melted, add 2 T flour
- stir constantly until rue (butter/flour mix) is smooth & bubbly all over, then continue to stir for another minute to get flour completely cooked
- gradually add 1 C milk, stirring constantly
- once the 1 C milk is added successfully and sauce is smooth and thick-ish, you can add the remaining 1 C milk all at once because you're no longer at risk for lumps
- once all the milk is added and is hot and steamy (it doesn't have to be bubbly, just plenty hot enough to melt the cheese), add in the 12 oz of chopped cheese and stir until it's all melted
- immediately remove from heat to avoid scalding anything - the melted cheese should have made your sauce thick again
- add 2 T ground mustard and 2 T deli-style mustard
- add a dash of tabasco and a few grinds of pepper, to taste
- put your cooked pasta, leftover chicken, and sauce into a buttered (or Pam'd, or however you prefer to non-stick-ify your casseroles) casserole dish, stir it all together, smooth out the top, and sprinkle on 2 T bread crumbs
- cover with aluminum foil (unless your casserole dish has a lid) and pop it in your 350 degree oven
- cook for 30 minutes or so, and then cook uncovered an additional 15 minutes or until the top is browned. If you didn't cover with bread crumbs or anything, you shouldn't cook it uncovered for too long or your noodles might get crusty.

Since everything is cooked to begin with, all you really need to do is get everything nice and hot and bubbly. If you did the sauce right, it'll already be nice and thick, so to save time you could probably bake it less and barely notice a difference.

Using cheddar makes it a little grainy, but I love cheddar so that's OK with me...if you wanted smoother, you could use another cheese.

You could also easily add other veggies, especially some fresh garlic and onion at the beginning: just cook it with the butter until the veggies are soft, and then add the flour and proceed the exact same way. If you've never tried your own white sauce before, it's easy! Don't be nervous. You just need a pan with a bottom that's not too thin, low heat, and equal parts fat (butter in this case) and flour, and then add your milk (preferably not skim, but anything at least 1% works just fine) very gradually, stirring constantly, and be patient. White sauce is a basic recipe that I used as the base for the cheese sauce, plus additional ingredients which I adapted from a few online mac & cheese recipes to use up some leftover chicken. I was lazy and didn't feel like chopping onions or I would have added that at the beginning with some fresh garlic.

Was the recipe easy to follow?
I didn't think about it enough ahead of time, so no, but if I did it again it would be better.

Did it taste good?
Pretty basic and nothing special, but yes, it was yummy comfort food.

Would you make this again?
I'm sure I'll do something similar in the future, but probably not the exact same thing. But it was a good way to use up my leftovers, so it worked.

I've been too lazy to pick out a real recipe from one of my many wonderful cookbooks, plan ahead and go to the grocery store, and make something more impressive to post about. Hopefully next week, maybe Wednesday. I made a really delish potato salad with lots of veggies like green beans, red pepper, red onion, and corn, with oil & balsamic vinegar dressing, but I didn't take pictures. It was really delish, though, so maybe I'll get the real recipe from my sis and post that & my variation of it anyway as a bonus. It was seriously delish.

OK bed time...I have a doctor's appointment at 7:00 AM tomorrow, ugh.

1 comment:

  1. Recipes that clean out the fridge are always good. Speaking of which, I need to learn how to make a frittata.