Some people love leftovers and others hate them. I’ve got the solution right here with macaroni and cheese that you make from scratch and add in some leftover chicken (or turkey since this is right after Thanksgiving). What you have is a great new meal.
Any time you buy a rotisserie chicken from your local market, fried chicken from your favorite fast food restaurant, BBQ chicken on your grill outside, or turkey after a major holiday you more than likely end up tossing away the key ingredient in this yummy dish.
So, let’s get started.
The first thing you want to do is make 8oz or half a bag of elbow macaroni. I got about 6 quarts of water boiling and added tablespoon of kosher salt. After the water was at a rolling boil I put in the macaroni, stirred from time to time and let it cook for 8-10 minutes.
While the water was heating up to a large saucepan I added 3 Tablespoons of butter and melted on low heat. Don’t rush this sauce or you’ll be fighting a loosing battle. As soon as the butter is melted I began to slowly mix in 3 Tablespoons of all purpose flour. Add them in one spoon at a time and keep stirring, you want this to be as smooth as you can keep it.
After a few minutes the flour butter mixture should be well blended and starting to bubble slightly. Congratulations, you made a Roux!!! (pronounced Rue). This is the base for our mac and cheese so now let’s take it a step further. We’re going to slowly add in a cup of chicken broth. When I say slowly what I really mean is, add in just a few drops and mix well, add in about a teaspoon and mix well, add in a tablespoon and mix well. Don’t rush this step as we expand on the roux and keep it smooth and creamy. Notice too that I changed to a whisk, this helped with the constant stirring.
After you have all of the chicken broth in your roux and it’s mix well we’ll do the same for 1/2 cup of heavy cream. At this point you don’t have to worry about lumps from the flour/butter mixture so you can add the cream in nearly all at once, but do keep stirring.
Our next step is to add in cheese. Don’t get too hung up on what kind of cheese to add to your macaroni bake anything is fine but I prefer something with an extra bite but not so wild that everyone wouldn’t like it so I added an 8oz bag of shredded cheddar. If you’re feeling really fancy Gouda Cheese is another great choice.
After I add the cheese I allow it to melt while maintaining the burner on low. After it’s fully melted I added pepper to taste. What works for me here is a light coating across the whole surface of the mixture which I then stir in.
At this point my macaroni is done so i drain it and sit it aside. To my cheese sauce I’m going to add 2 cups or whatever you feel is about 2 cups of cubed chicken or turkey and a can of drained peas and carrots.
Allow to cook for a minute or two then I added in the macaroni by the large spoonful. Fold the macaroni into your cheese sauce gently, we don’t want to break up the noodles but we do want them all the way covered in cheese.
Now we pour everything into a casserole dish, set aside, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating up melt 1 to 1/2 tablespoons of butter. I melted mine in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs and mix until just coated.
Evenly spread the breadcrumb/butter mixture over the macaroni and cheese and pop into the oven for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes remove your dish from the oven. If the top isn’t brown (like mine wasn’t) put directly under the broiler for about a minute and no more than two. Turn your oven light on or keep the door open while under the broiler and watch very carefully. I ran to get my camera, was gone for 30 seconds, and almost had a disaster on my hands. What you want is golden brown.
Turn off your oven/broiler, remove the dish and allow to sit for about 15 minutes. This helps the cheese firm up, and your dinner won’t burn your mouth. Trust me, you want to taste this so save your tongue and let it cool off awhile.
And there you go, old dinner becomes new with this delicious chicken macaroni bake.
Cheesy Chicken Casserole
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni or small shells
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- One 8oz package sharp chedder shredded or your favorite cheese cut into small pieces
- 2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey
- 1 can peas and carrots, drained
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- Cook macaroni in boiling salted water for about 8-10 minutes until cooked but firm. Drain and set aside.
- In a saucepan over low heat, slowly melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Slowly add flour while constantly stirring until well blended.
- Gradually stir in the chicken broth and and then the cream.
- Stir in cheese until melted and smooth then add pepper to taste.
- Allow the cheese sauce to thicken then add the chicken/turkey along with the peas and carrots.
- Cook an addition couple of minutes then slowly fold in the cooked macaroni.
- Gently stir until well coated then move mixture to a casserole dish. Melt butter and mix with panko bread crumbs then spread over macaroni mixture.
- Cook at 350degrees for 25 minutes then optionally cook under broiler until bread crumbs are a golden brown.
- Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.