A creamy cheddar and fontina sauce filled with savory spices coats shredded chicken and tender elbow noodles in this comfort food bake.
- 1 pound elbow noodles
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup panko (or regular) breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, divided
- 1 cup shredded medium cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
- 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or a 4-quart casserole pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Add the elbow macaroni to the boiling water and cook until just about al dente, according to package instructions. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water. Drain the noodles and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the buttered breadcrumbs. In a small bowl, microwave 1 tablespoon of the butter on high until it melts, about 30 seconds. Stir in the breadcrumbs. Set aside.
- Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot over medium heat.
- Whisk the flour into the butter and cook, whisking often, for about 3-5 minutes to cook out the raw flavor of the flour. The roux should be lightly golden. While continuing to whisk, gradually pour in the milk and cream a few tablespoons at a time, making sure no clumps form.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly until thickened. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the garlic powder, onion powder, and ground mustard, and 1 teaspoon of the paprika.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2-3 minutes, continuing to stir frequently.
- A little at a time, fold the cheddar, fontina, and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan into the sauce.
- Remove the pot from heat, stir in the noodles, and add a few tablespoons of the starchy cooking water at a time as needed, to help the sauce cling to the pasta. Fold in the chicken, and season with the remaining salt and pepper. Season to taste with additional salt if necessary.
- Transfer to the prepared baking or casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with the buttered breadcrumbs, and dust with the remaining paprika and parmesan. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and bake until the top is golden-brown, about 18-20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Allow the casserole to rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Divide the chicken mac ‘n’ cheese among bowls, garnish with the parsley, and serve.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Mac and Cheese
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Casserole
Keywords: chicken, macaroni, cheese, mac