The funny thing about Brenna is that she seems to have a psychic gift of knowing when I am going to walk through the door with a store-bought rotisserie chicken. She’s there to meet me every time, with a crazed look on her little face; and she doesn’t leave my side until all of that chicken is off of the bone and put away. This recipe is a great way to make a quick homemade mac & cheese that is unique, and uses whatever pasta you have handy in your pantry. I used Mrs. Miller’s All Natural Old Fashioned Pot Pie Noodles, but Rigatoni, Campanelle, Gemelli, or even elbow macaroni would all work just as well in this recipe. (This chart is a quick reference to virtually every type of pasta.) One large suggestion before you think about making this recipe. Either bake this in a large Dutch oven, or separate the pasta mixture between two baking dishes, before placing it in the oven. I used a 9×13 glass baking dish, which allowed the cheese mixture to boil over after 15 minutes of being in the oven. There was a lot of smoke and a lot of noise from the smoke alarm; it even managed to bring B.O.B. Bob running from the garden to see what was going on. If you do divide this between baking dishes, you will want a little bit of extra shredded cheese to sprinkle on top before baking. I used Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar for it’s intense tangy and nutty flavor.
- 1 Store-Bought Rotisserie Chicken; Deboned, Skinned, and Roughly Chopped
- 1 (16oz.) Bag or Box of Pasta
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 1/2 Cups Milk
- 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 Cup Apple Butter
- 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 1 Sweet Onion, Finely Diced
- 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
- 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 8-oz. Sharp White Cheddar, Shredded
- 8-oz. Gouda, Shredded (Reserve 1/2 Cup for Topping)
- 1 Fuji Apple, Cored and Finely Diced
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the package’s directions. When the pasta is done, drain well and mix in the olive oil, which will prevent it from sticking.
- While the water is boiling, heat the milk, cream, and apple butter over medium heat, in a large saucepan. Stir frequently; making sure it does not come to a boil.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pan, over medium heat.
- Add the diced onions to the melted butter, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add flour to the onions, cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the hot milk mixture to the onions, cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove the Dutch oven or pan from heat, and stir in nutmeg, pepper, salt, and cinnamon.
- Add cheeses, and mix well.
- Add chopped chicken and diced apples, and mix well.
- Pour mixture into baking dishes if not using a Dutch oven.
- Sprinkle with reserved cheese.
- Bake 30 to 40 minutes, uncovered, until the top turns a golden brown.
- Allow to cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
- Make sure you don’t overfill your baking dish or pan before placing it in the oven. I ended up with the smoke alarm going off for a half an hour, smoke rolling out of my oven, and Brenna hiding in fear somewhere upstairs!
- Sprinkle finely chopped scallions, chives, or parsley on top before serving.
- Play around with different types of cheeses, such as Swiss, Gruyere, or Edam.
- Don’t forget to save the wishbone, and try not to run it down the disposal like I did.
- Boil the leftover chicken bones and skin in water to make a broth for later use. Place all bones and skin in a large pot. Cover chicken with water by two to three inches. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-high. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove bones, then strain liquid through a fine mesh colander. Refrigerate or freeze broth in an airtight container for later use.
- Top with crumbled bacon.
- Pork, turkey, or chicken sausage would all be great in this dish, if you chose to omit the rotisserie chicken.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 11/04/2013
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