My friends, take a look at that gooey mess of a mac and cheese. A spoonful of succulent chicken, cheesy macaroni, crisp bacon and caramelized onions. It’s mac and cheese at its best.
This macaroni and cheese with chicken, caramelized onions and bacon has all the comforts of our childhood favorite but with extra goodies for grown-up tastes. It’s definitely a one pot meal that is sure to please the whole family. I used chicken breast tenders I lightly pan-fried with olive oil but you can easily substitute leftovers from last night’s roast chicken. Happy cooking!
- 1 pound chicken breast tenders
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 6 slices bacon , chopped
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese , grated
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese , shredded
- 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese , shredded
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- a pinch of nutmeg , freshly-grated
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon butter
- 1 large sweet onion , peeled, halved and sliced thinly
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a bowl, season chicken tenders with salt and pepper to taste. In a pan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add chicken tenders and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and juices run clear. Remove from pan and allow to cool to touch. Sliced thinly and set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, bring about 4 quarts water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes or until firm to bite. Remove from pot and drain well.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add bacon and cook, stirring regularly, until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove from pan and reserve drippings.
Add flour to drippings and cook, stirring regularly, for about 1 minute or until bubbly. Gradually add milk, stirring regularly. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened.
Add Parmesan cheese and 1 cup cheddar cheese and continue to cook, whisking constantly, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until melted. Add cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl, combine pasta, caramelized onions, chicken and 2/3 of the bacon. Add cheese sauce and toss gently to combine.
Lightly grease a casserole with cooking spray. Spoon pasta mixture into casserole. Top with the remaining 1/3 of the bacon, the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese and the monterey jack cheese. Bake in a 350 F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve hot.
In a wide, thick bottomed skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and butter until hot and shimmering. Add onions and stir until coated with oil. Add salt and sugar.
Cook and stir onions for about 5 minutes or until they release liquid. Spread onions in the pan and adjust heat to low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until onions are golden brown and wilted.