Dinner: Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

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I saw this recipe a few weeks back in a Cooking Light magazine, but didn’t point it out to the wife to try and make.  In some sort of divine cosmic happening, the wife turned to this recipe over the weekend and suggested we make it.  Mac and cheese with some bacon on top…hells yes (some broccoli and chicken too)!  After a quick trip to the store we grabbed everything we needed to make up this meal.

While the wife, as usual, did most of the work here…I did help.  We chopped up the broccoli first and washed that off.  Then, at the same time we got the pasta cooking and the bacon going.  We used our Le Creuset braiser to cook the bacon in (as well as the rest of the dinner).  The Le Creuset stuff we have is amazing.  The braised is great for meals like this where you can cook in it and then throw it directly into the oven.

After the bacon was done, we threw the chicken into the bacon grease to cook up.  As the chicken was cooking, we threw the broccoli into the boiling pot with the pasta.  Boiling broccoli always weirds me out.  It turns the water green…gross.  Anyway.  Once the chicken was done you eventually add in the rest of the ingredients.  It comes together in a lovely smelling, creamy looking mess of deliciousness.  After all the ingredients are together, we topped the mixture with some cheese and bacon, and popped it in the oven.  Knowing how much of a nerd I am, the wife broiled this perfectly so my pictures looked good (she’s a champ for helping make this little blog happen).

Once it was one the plate, I couldn’t wait to dig in.  We love ourselves some mac and cheese, and this allows you to add a little boost to the meal while keeping it somewhat healthy.  The texture and taste of this was great.    It was creamy underneath with some nice crunchy parts on top.  Of course I would add more cheese and bacon, but that would move it out of a Cooking Light magazine into a Paula Dean magazine.  In any case, this was a great meal to put together.  Even the leftovers are great.  I think, just to add a bit more bite, I would throw on some red pepper flakes to the meal.  Other than that…it was definitely a win.

Beer with Dinner: Madtree The Great Pumpcan – Great pumpkin beer.  Not too much spice to it and goes down smooth.

Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces uncooked large or regular elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups prechopped broccoli florets
  • 3 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/4 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/4 cups)

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add broccoli to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.
  3. While pasta cooks, place bacon in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon; reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add chicken to drippings in pan; cook 4 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with turmeric; cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
  4. Combine remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, milk, stock, and flour, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Add pasta mixture and 2 ounces cheese; toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 3 ounces cheese and bacon. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and just begins to brown.
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