Recipes, Soups, Salads & Sides

Roasted Chicken & Pesto Mac 'n Cheese

One of the things that I absolutely love about macaroni and cheese is its versatility and ease of being able to manipulate to make more delicious.

For instance, you can add in bacon, or lobster, or truffle oil, or change up the cheeses to make the flavor more intense, the possibilities are endless. It’s an exceptionally good time to make macaroni and cheese over the holidays as well. My wife’s family has to have macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. They want it for literally every major holiday.

Mac N Cheese 1

It’s super good to serve as a side dish but also a great comforting dish to serve as a main entrée during the stressful day-long cooking extravaganzas that are the holidays. It’s easy to make, delicious, and always a crowd favorite. In this Roasted Chicken and Pesto Macaroni and Cheese recipe, I used a few different cheeses just because I could and because I wanted them to compliment the easy pesto recipe that I added in.

Mac N Cheese 2

While making this I also wanted to keep in mind that I wanted this to be easy and old fashioned, if you will, so I used a rotisserie chicken and a crunched up some Ritz® crackers and put them all over the top. The cream sauce in the mac 'n cheese is a basic cream sauce consisting of onions, garlic, milk and, of course, cheese! For a crazy delicious flavor, I whisked in some shredded fontina and smoked gouda cheese.

Pesto has to be one of the easiest things to make and often times the most flavorful thing you can add to a recipe to make it delicious. You can add it to pasta with vegetables, or on top of some chicken or in a mac 'n cheese ☺.

Mac N Cheese 3

To make pesto, add some fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, lemon juice and parmesan cheese to a food processor and pulse until it is smooth. From there, slowly drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil while on high speed and season with with salt and pepper! Yup, it’s that easy… You’re welcome!

Mac N Cheese 4

Now to layer this deliciousness, simply toss the cooked gigli noodles with the cooked cheesy cream and the chopped up rotisserie chicken, and add it to a cassoulet baking dish. Next, add a few dollops of the pesto and then sprinkle on the remaining shredded cheeses and crushed up Ritz® crackers.

Seriously, make this!

Mac N Cheese 5
Mac N Cheese 13

Roasted Chicken + Pesto Mac 'N Cheese

theinspiredhome.com
SERVINGS

Serves 8 to 10

SPECIAL TOOLS

Dutch Oven
Grater
Food Processor
Whisk
Cassoulet Baking Dish
Knife
Garlic Mincer


INGREDIENTS

For the Mac 'N Cheese:

  • 1 trimmed and roughly chopped rotisserie chicken, bones and skin discarded
  • 1 pound of boiled and cooked gigli noodles
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 small diced yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of finely minced garlic
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups of whole milk
  • 6 ounces of shredded fontina cheese
  • 6 ounces of shredded smoked gouda cheese
  • 1 cup of crushed Ritz® Crackers
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to tast

For the Pesto:

  • ½ cup of packed basil leaves
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. For the Cheese Sauce: In a large pot on high heat add in the butter and sauté the onions and garlic until lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Next, sprinkle in the flour and mix until combined. Pour in the milk and bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat until thick (think alfredo sauce).
  4. Whisk in 4 ounces of each cheese until the sauce is smooth and then adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  5. For the Pesto: Add the basil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese and pine nuts to a food processor and pulse on high until it is smooth.
  6. Next, drizzle in the olive oil while on high speed until mixed in. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  7. Add the rotisserie chicken, cooked noodles, cheese sauce, and salt and pepper to a large bowl and mix until combined.
  8. Transfer the noodle mixture to a large cassoulet dish and evenly add on dollops of the pesto. Top off with the remaining shredded cheese and then finally the crushed up crackers.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
  10. Serve hot!

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