Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Aged Cheddar
One comfort food is good. Two comfort foods? Even better. How about two comfort foods combined into one? Well, it depends. A meal of baked lasagna served ála mode with vanilla ice cream is obviously not a good idea. But combining a classic such as macaroni and cheese and chicken pot pie into one creamy, gooey casserole? Let’s see if I can convince you what a good idea this is.
Béchamel is what these two classics have in common. This basic white sauce not only adds flavor to the filling of chicken pot pie, but it also keeps it from becoming a runny mess. Ditto with macaroni and cheese. The only difference is that the latter has cheese melted into the béchamel, forming a sauce that is not only creamy but also cheesy and velvety.
How can you go wrong with combining two dishes that share the same soul? Strengthen that natural bond with some good – I mean, really good – Wisconsin Aged Cheddar Cheese, and you have a winner.
Merging the core elements of these two dishes is not without a challenge, however. Macaroni and cheese is already loaded with starch; how can we incorporate the crust of chicken pot pie into this hybrid without creating some kind of carbohydrate-rich superfluity?
Instead of draping a blanket of regular pie crust over the casserole, we are going to top our chicken pot pie macaroni and cheese with a light sprinkling of savory streusel topping. With each bite, you get lots gooey baked pasta with the familiar flavor of chicken pot pie plus tiny little nuggets that are crunchy, buttery, and cheesy. You won’t even miss the flaky pie crust; trust me.
Chicken Pot Pie Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups elbow macaroni
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup flour, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups milk
4 cups (16 ounces) Wisconsin Aged Cheddar Cheese, shredded and divided
1 1/4 cups boneless, rotisserie chicken breast, skinned and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas & carrot vegetable mix, thawed and well-drained
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions; drain well in colander and rinse with cold water; drain well and shake to remove excess water. Set aside.
Melt 1/2 cup butter in 4-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in 1/4 cup flour and salt. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly to prevent clumping. When sauce is smooth and has thickened, remove from heat. Immediately add 3 cups Cheddar Cheese to sauce; whisk until Cheese melts completely and sauce is smooth.
Add cooked pasta, chicken and vegetable mix to sauce; mix well. Pour mixture into buttered 7 x 11-inch baking dish; smooth surface with spatula.
To make topping, combine remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 3/4 cup flour, 1 cup cheese and pepper in medium bowl. With your fingertips, mix together until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle topping over surface of macaroni mixture.
Bake casserole, uncovered, 25-30 minutes, or until topping becomes light brown and pasta is heated through.
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