Mac and Cheese Potluck

There are very few things in this world that I adore more than a freshly baked, gooey Macaroni and Cheese. I brought a batch of my favorite butternut squash mac to a BBQ recently and we all got to chatting about the variety of flavors, cheeses and ingredients everyone uses in their favorite recipe. The versatility and creativity that mac and cheese offers is one of the best parts about it!  Before long, we all agreed that a mac and cheese potluck was in order.

Having already showcased my butternut squash mac and cheese, I decided to try something totally different. I was impressed by how delicious this baked buffalo chicken mac and cheese turned out! The celery, spicy buffalo sauce and crispy blue cheese panko really gives this mac and cheese a burst of buffalo chicken flavor. See the recipe below and give it a try for dinner one night. Or better yet, get a bunch of friends together and host a mac and cheese pot luck of your own!

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese 

Ingredients

  • 16 oz penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Buffalo Chicken Mixture

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion medium, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Hand Grenade or Fool’s Paradise if you’re feeling spicy! I like a mixture of the two
  • 4 cups rotisserie chicken or diced, cooked chicken breast

Cheese Sauce

  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup Hand Grenade
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 5 cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • 5 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 cup sour cream

Topping

  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp butter melted
  • 1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped loosely packed

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl mix together 2 tablespoons of melted butter, Panko breadcrumbs, bleu cheese crumbles and chopped parsley. Set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot boil pasta in salted water per package directions. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, cooking for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook another 2 minutes. Add the hot sauce and cut chicken, stirring to combine. Cook another 2-3 minutes until sauce thickens slightly. Set aside.
  4. In same skillet melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute. Add the half and half and whisk to mix thoroughly. Whisk in the hot sauce, mustard. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 4 minutes, the sauce will thicken.
  5. Add the sour cream, both cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, stirring to melt in the sauce. Sauce should be smooth.
  6. Pour cooked penne macaroni into a 13×9″ casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Add the chicken mixture and pour cheese sauce over all. Stir to mix in completely. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  7. Remove aluminum foil, sprinkle crumb topping over top and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes or until top is golden brown and crunchy.