If you want to add pizazz to your homemade mac-n-cheese, this is what you do.
Buy GOOD cheese. Pick something local, cause it will be fresh. Pick something fancy – something full of flavor. Our friend Jason visited the Harpersfield Farmstead recently and brought back a block of Basil & Tomato with a THS Mac N Cheese creation in mind.
Buy blocked cheese, not pre-grated. The freshness factor of grating your own block of cheese versus buying prepackaged shredded cheese is no where near comparable. Take the extra time and make the extra effort. It’s worth it.
Use corkscrew shaped pasta. Corkscrew pasta holds cheese sauce the best. Speaking of pasta – don’t rinse it off after draining. The starchy layer on the pasta after cooking will help to thicken the cheese sauce. This is what makes the difference when wanting your cheese to really stick heartily to the pasta!
Allow the dish to cool for 10-15 minutes [or more!] before serving. This cooling time allows sauce to thicken to a great, creamy texture.
Eat it with people you love. It just tastes better this way.
Basil & Tomato Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken
- 2 chicken breasts, [1 – 1 .25 pound, total]
- 1 T dried basil
- 1 lb whole wheat corkscrew shaped pasta
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 2+ cups, firmly packed, shredded tomato & basil cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Rub basil over chicken and set into a baking dish. [I used a Pyrex pie plate.] Bake chicken for 35-40 minutes, until cooked through.
- Remove the chicken from the oven to cool. When cool to touch, dice into bite sized pieces.
- Cook pasta to package directions.
- Meanwhile, combine heavy cream and milk over medium high heat, bringing to boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Raise heat to medium-high and stir in cheese. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add chicken pieces to cheese sauce and continue to simmer for an additional 2 minutes.
- Fold pasta into sauce to mix.
- Pour into Pyrex dishes [one 9x13 or 2 pie plates will do!] and top with breadcrumbs to your liking. [we used about half a cup, total.]
- Bake dishes for 10-15 minutes, until breadcrumbs brown. Remove from oven and cool 10-15 minutes.