Monday, July 29, 2019

Joey's Pepper Jack Chicken Mac

  When the weather is warm, I usually tend to set the baked casseroles aside, because most times I'd rather not turn on a hot oven. But this one was so good, I think it's worth cranking up the AC!
 I originally got the idea when I was watching a cooking show, and they did a jalapeno mac and cheese. But then I thought, what if I turn that from a side dish into a one dish meal? I could add shredded chicken and a few other things, and it would be perfect! So that's exactly what I did. And it turned out great! The onions and garlic add a deeper savory-ness to the dish, and the different cheeses add to the depth of flavor. Yes, yes, all you cheese purists, I used Velveeta processed cheese. Judge me all you want, but I'm owning it. It makes the dish so much more gooey and creamy, so I stand by it! And as far as the heat goes, I used just a couple jalapeño peppers, but you can add as many as you like! SO good!
 This dish is pretty hearty, so you don't need anything else but maybe a light side salad to go with it, and then maybe cool off with some fresh fruit for dessert. Sounds like a perfect dinner to me! No matter how you serve it, if you're a fan of mac and cheese, then I know you're gonna love it!

1/2 lb large elbow macaroni
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbs butter
4 tbs flour
4 cups milk
1 tbs mustard, any kind
1/2 lb pepper jack cheese
1/2 lb Velveeta processed cheese
1/2 lb cheddar cheese
1-2 Jalapeño peppers, sliced, can be fresh or pickled
2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded

 In a large pot of salted water, boil the elbows until al dente. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
In the meantime, melt butter in a large saute pan. Add onions and garlic. Saute until the onions are soft and fragrant. Add flour to pan, stir to combine. Add milk and mustard. Use a wire whisk to break up the lumps of flour. Add cheeses to the sauce, reserving half of the cheddar. Continue to stir until melted and bubbly. Add a couple tbs of chopped jalapeños. Add cheese sauce and chicken to the bowl of drained elbows. Toss all until well combined. Place in a large casserole dish. Top with slices of jalapeño and reserved cheddar. Bake 30 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and let it stand for a good ten minutes before serving.

For the chicken, I just used a store bought rotisserie, but you can use whatever leftover chicken you have. Or you could roast a couple chicken breasts in the oven. Just bake them on a sheet tray with a little salt and pepper, then cut into chunks, or shred. Easy!
For the pasta, use any favorite large cut pasta. It's all good!
Wanna really bump up the heat? Use Serrano or even hotter Habanero peppers!

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