Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bacon & Chicken Skillet Mac and Cheese

If you've been reading my blog, you can probably tell that I really LOVE cheese.  I also follow the adage that bacon makes everything better so when I saw this bacon cheddar at Trader Joe's the other day, I had to buy it.

Since the weather has finally cooled off, I immediately knew what I wanted to make with it, bacon mac and cheese.  Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food.  It combines pasta (my first love) with cheese.  Add in a little bacon and you have heaven on a plate.  Because a girl can't live on pasta and cheese alone, I added in some rotisserie chicken.

Start out by cooking up a pound of pasta (keep it al dente) and grating up a bunch of cheese.  The bacon cheddar is pretty mild so I decided to add in a little sharp cheddar as well to bump up the flavor.  I used about 2/3 bacon cheddar and 1/3 sharp cheddar. 

In a large oven-safe skillet melt some butter, then whisk in an equal amount of flour and some dry mustard and cook for about 3 minutes, or until it turns golden.  Whisk in the milk (I used skim) and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until it thickens a little bit.

Add in the sharp cheddar and all but a cup of the bacon cheddar, whisking until it is melted.  Stir in a little white pepper. I also added some Emeril's Original Essence to amplify the smoky flavor from the bacon cheddar.

Put the pasta and chicken in the skillet and stir until it is all coated.  Sprinkle the top with about 1/2 a cup of panko breadcrumbs and the reserved cup of bacon cheddar.

Then put that cheesy goodness under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the panko topping is slightly golden.

Bacon & Chicken Skillet Mac and Cheese
  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 3 tbls. butter
  • 3 tbls. flour
  • 2 tsp. dried mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 10 oz. bacon cheddar, shredded
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. Emeril's Original Essence (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup panko
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente.  Set aside.
  2. In a large, oven-safe skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add in flour and dried mustard and whisk until light golden in color, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in milk and continue to cook for about 3 more minutes or until it starts to thicken slightly, then add in the white pepper and Emeril's Essence if using.
  4. Stir in the sharp cheddar and all but 1 cup of the bacon cheddar until melted.  
  5. Add chicken and pasta to the skillet and stir until the cheese sauce has coated it all.
  6. Top with remaining bacon cheddar and panko.
  7. Put under broiler for about 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the panko is slightly golden.

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