My good friend Benny likes buffalo wings, and by like, I mean love. No matter where we go, if he finds them on the menu, he orders them. I don’t like wings at all (some say that’s just not American), but I do like the buffalo flavor and the blue cheese dressing that comes on the side. On the few occasions where we have found buffalo tenders on the menu, I’m a happy girl.
Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of “buffalo” inspired recipes. Lasagna, shrimp, pizza, wraps, grilled cheese, just to name a few and I always think of my buddy. I’ve had a recipe on my radar for a couple of years now from epicurious for mac and cheese with buffalo chicken
By now, I was really in the mood for “buffalo”, so I gave Benny a jingle and told him that I was going to come over to make buffalo chicken mac and cheese for him. We called our other friend Doug (our third musketeer) and made plans for Sunday. It was a long weekend and kids had the day off, so there was no pressure to head back too early. Benny lives across the state lines in Maryland, which feels like driving to New York for me.
I dug out the recipe from epicurious and finally read it. For this recipe, you fry corn flake coated chicken, cut it into strips, stir it into the mac and cheese and serve with hot sauce (sauce) on the side. That doesn’t sound very buffalo to me. The fried chicken yes, but hot sauce on the side? No. Way. I did like the cheddar/provolone combo, but where was the blue cheese?
I couldn’t believe it, but it seemed like I was going to have to come up with my own recipe, which is very outside of my comfort zone.
My plan was to make shredded buffalo chicken, naturally adding hot sauce to the mac, then sprinkle a crunchy blue cheese topping, since it’s what we all love about wings and I’ve grown to love a crunchy mac crust.
I’m not one to humble brag or boast, but the mac and cheese was &!@#& fantastic! We all sat down for the first serving and moaned and laughed and sighed over how good it was. I think we waited maybe three minutes before having a second serving, this time adding hot sauce on top because… why not? That pushed us over the top, we were so stuffed and full and happy, but kept eyeing the pan wondering if we could fit more in somewhere.
There was a less than half a pan left, but I took it home, so I could take picks the next day and also freeze it for later.
The next morning I cut a hunk, shot my photos and then ate it. Miles started laughing at me. “Are you eating the mac and cheese for breakfast?” he asked. “Yep”, I said. “I can’t let it go to waist”. I cut the rest into six side serving portions and put them in the freezer. I think I’ll be eating this again. Very. Soon.
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
for the buffalo chicken
- 4 skinless , boneless chicken breast halves
- Salt and pepper
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic , finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 cup of hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
for the macaroni
- 1 pound small elbow macaroni
- 1 cup chopped green onions (about 8 large)
- 1 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 3 tablespoons butter ,
- 1 cups chopped onions
- 2 large garlic cloves , chopped
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese , coarsely grated (about 4 cups packed)
- 8 ounces provolone cheese , coarsely grated (about 2 cups packed)
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
for the blue cheese topping
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1/2 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese (or your favorite blue cheese)
- 2 tablespoons butter
make the buffalo chicken
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in a large pot with the onion, garlic and oregano with just enough water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 – 20 minutes. Remove the chicken pot and shred with two forks. Empty and clean out pot. Add butter to the pot and melt over low heat. Add hot sauce and combine. Stir in shredded chicken and heat through. Set aside.
make the macaroni
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water until just al dente (about 7 minutes). Drain; transfer to very large bowl. Melt butter in same large pot over medium heat. Add both onions and garlic. Sauté until onions are transparent and soft stirring often, about 6 minutes. Add flour; stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer sauce for 2 minutes. Add cheddar and provolone cheese, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Whisk until cheeses melt and sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired. Mix cheese sauce into macaroni. Stir in hot sauce and shredded chicken pieces. Mound mixture in 13x9x2-inch baking dish. In a small microwave safe bowl melt butter and cheese in the microwave at 30 -second increments until the cheese is melted. Stir to combine between intervals. Add panko combining thoroughly. Sprinkle blue cheese topping on top of mac and cheese. Bake mac and cheese uncovered until heated through and the panko is golden brown, about 30 - 40 minutes.