Garlic Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

I’m going to admit, I don’t cook much. To be honest, I think I’m just better at eating out. I wish I cooked more and I’m making an effort in 2018 to do so. For some reason, I’ve always wanted to make my own mac and cheese and maybe it’s because it seems fairly easy to make – pasta, stuff you want to put in pasta, and lots of cheese. I looked up a basic recipe, added my own touches and it actually came out as a really decent meal I would have been proud to serve! Read below on my first cooking blog post and how to make your own mac and cheese!

*Modifications made to original recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk (we used 2% milk, but I think it would have been better with whole milk)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups of shredded cheese (we used a Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack and Cheddar blend)
  • 1 package of pasta of your choice (we used penne, which doesn’t technically make it mac and cheese)
  • 1/2 whole chicken (Rotisserie from Costco so we didn’t have to cook it)
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • (Optional) Breadcrumb topping

How to Make it

Preheat oven to 400°

Pasta
– Assuming you’re not making pasta from scratch, cook the pasta of your choice according to the directions on the package. Set aside for later.

Garlic
– Peel and chop (or if you’re smart, you would just buy it peeled and chopped) up 3 heads (not cloves) of garlic (or however much you want). I want this to be super garlicky and 3 heads was a good amount.

Optional: Breadcrumb Topping
– We could not find any breadcrumbs at the store (I’m not sure why) so we got seasoned croutons and crushed it up to make our own breadcrumbs. Genius, I know.

Chicken
– If you got a Costco rotisserie chicken like we did (saves you so much work for only $5!), cut it up into cubes. I would give you directions how, but I kind of just winged this. Cut as much chicken as you want to eat. We cut up about half. Set aside.

Broccoli
– Cut it up into small bite-site pieces and boil or steam it to your liking. Set aside.

Cubed chicken, cooked broccoli and lot of cheese

Sauce
Microwave milk on high for 1 1/2 minutes.
– Melt butter in a large (non-stick preferred) pot over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute.
– Gradually whisk in warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly for 5 minutes or until thickened.
– Whisk in salt, black pepper, garlic, and 2.5 cups of shredded cheese

Putting it together
– In the cheesy sauce mixture pot, add in your pasta, broccoli and chicken. Mix until everything is coated.
– Lightly grease an oven safe baking dish and pour everything into it. We used a cast iron.

Getting ready to go in the oven…

– Add the other 1 1/2 cups of cheese on top.

… but not without more cheese on top!

– Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
– Take it out, put the breadcrumbs on top and broil for about a minute to get it all toasty.
– Take it out and serve. Or if you’re lazy like us, take it out and put it on a potholder on the table and have people serve themselves. Be careful – your dish will be super hot.

Successful garlic mac and and cheese with chicken and broccoli

Tips

– Use milk that has a higher fat content. We used 2% and felt like the sauce was a little too thin for the mac and cheese (still good though).
– Instead of mixing shredded cheese in the sauce mixture and just adding some on top, put less into the cheese sauce and mix some into the pasta right before it goes in the oven. I think it will give it more of a string-y cheesy pull when you grab a bite (which we barely got).
– Follow the recipe, but if you like more or less of something, make your own modifications (like more cheese! or some spices).
– Cooking shortcut: buy a chicken that is already cooked. It will save you so much time from not having to season and cook it.
– Since there is so much garlic, I recommend buying some that are at least peeled if not chopped as well. It was time consuming to peel and chop all of them and the skins are so sticky.

Enjoy!

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