Monday, July 15, 2013

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Mac 'n Cheese

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend doing something fun and/or at the very least, enjoyed something delicious. I had quite a busy weekend {as usual} full of great food. Friday The Baron and I celebrated Bastille Day early and enjoyed an amazing meal at Le Bouchon, a French restaurant in Chicago {review coming soon!} Saturday I taught a French Macarons class that went really well. Later that night I also hosted a Cuban inspired 'Havana Nights' cooking party for a great good group of folks. Then Sunday was an early day doing a cooking demo on camera followed by getting our fill of amazing BBQ at a fun event downtown. We pretty much ate our way through the weekend! Today, I'm sharing a recipe I made for my family, which was inspired by the weekend. Yesterday, was not only Bastille Day but it was also Mac & Cheese Day! I don't know of any child that doesn't like Mac & Cheese so in honor of this, I made this Buffalo Ranch Chicken Mac 'n Cheese. The favorite flavors of buffalo chicken wings are brought to life in this version of mac and cheese with ranch seasoned chicken and a creamy blue cheese bechamel sauce...

So I mentioned I was on camera... and here's the video! I did a live cooking demo on ABC 7 Chicago news yesterday morning in honor of Mac & Cheese Day. I decided to share a tweaked version of the original recipe here, which incorporates ranch seasoning, as I mentioned on the interview. Enjoy!...

It's no wonder that macaroni and cheese is a favorite in many households. It's probably the most popular casserole dish there is! To celebrate further the deliciousness of mac and cheese, I partnered up with Country Crock and because part of the Country Crock Casserole Club. As part of this club, I'll be featuring some casserole recipes in the coming months so stay tuned! Country Crock is also sharing the love with my readers with a giveaway! They will be providing five runner up prizes with Country Crock VIP coupons AND a grand prize winner will receive the following items: 
- Casserole dish
- Country Crock VIP Coupon (good for one free product)
- Recipe Card

So to participate and get in on the action, use your social media networks by either the following by July 31st:

- Pin a picture of my dish on Pinterest using the #CountryCrockCasserole hashtag
- Tweet the link to my blog post on Twitter using #CountryCrockCasserole hashtag
- Post the link to my blog post on Facebook using #CountryCrockCasserole hashtag

Good luck!

Full Disclosure: The giveaway is sponsored by Country Crock, who also provided me with a Casserole Club kit containing food related product to review and use. Products I review and offer as a giveaway are ones I personally recommend, would use/enjoy myself and the opinions reflected are mine alone.

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Mac 'n Cheese 
Recipe adapted from Mac & Cheese Please 

2 pounds skin-on, bone in chicken breasts
1 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning
2 tablespoons Country Crock
2 tablespoons Frank's RedHot Sauce or more to taste
salt & pepper to taste
1 pound {GF} small shell pasta or small elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons butter, cold
1/4 cup all-purpose flour or GF flour blend
2 cups whole or reduced-fat milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups Parrano cheese, coarsely grated
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup Frank's RedHot Sauce plus more to taste
4 medium celery stalks, diced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

1/4 cup {GF} breadcrumbs

Debone chicken breast and remove the skin. Set skin aside and cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Coat chicken in ranch seasoning.

In a skillet over high heat, add the butter and then add chicken. Cook on both sides until browned and juices run clear. Remove from skillet and transfer to a large bowl. Add hot sauce to coat and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the reserved chicken skin and cook until browned and crisp through. Transfer skin onto a paper towel to soak up any fat. Reserve cooked skin for garnish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking dish and set aside. 

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, melt the 2 tablespoons cold butter. Slowly whisk in the flour and stir constantly until a paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds. Continue stirring for about 2 minutes more, or until the mixture starts to darken slightly and smell a bit nutty. Slowly whisk in the milk, cream and add a pinch of salt. Continue cooking until the mixture starts to thicken and begins to bubble around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Add the Parrano cheese, the blue cheese, cream cheese, and hot sauce. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth but not too runny. It should be similar in texture to a loose cake batter. Add the pasta, chicken, celery, and chives and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish, sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with more grated Parrano cheese if desired. Garnish with chives and crumble crisped chicken skin. Serve with extra hot sauce.