Baked macaroni and cheese that’s gorgeously creamy but made with no cream! Loaded up with chicken and broccoli so it’s a complete meal. In one pot. On the table in 30 minutes. What more can you ask for? Oh – maybe just a cooking video to see how EASY this is to make? 😉
There’s a whole giant head of broccoli in this. And you don’t even need to steam it separately, it gets cooked right in the same pot with the mac and cheese. 🙂 Plus chicken + pasta + cheese = complete meal. At least, in my books!
I adore Mac and Cheese. If I see it on a menu, especially at posh restaurants, I have to have it on the side. Any Sydney-siders tried Neil Perry’s Mac and Cheese at his Rockpool Bar & Grill restaurant? It’s utterly incredible.
It’s also so rich that I can’t have more than a couple of (generously heaped) spoons of it.
So the Mac and Cheese I make at home that’s suitable for serving as a meal is made without cream by using a roux as a base. Sounds fancy (it’s French!), but it’s just melted butter + flour whisked into milk to create a creamy sauce.
I make this in the oven so that way you can make it all in one pot, rather than cooking the macaroni separately and mixing it into the sauce. Making it this way requires an exact amount of liquid to macaroni ratio, specific water + milk combo (too much milk = takes far too long for pasta to rehydrate) and following the cook times specified in the recipe.
Oh – the other very specific steps I do are:
a) Stirring the cheese in just before grilling/broiling to brown the top (if you add it beforehand, it takes forever for the pasta to cook); and
b) Sprinkling the panko and parmesan on at the end, then broiling/grilling it to brown. This serves 2 purposes: browning the crunchy topping while the pasta finishes cooking using the residual heat, and the sauce thickens. You’ll be surprised how much the sauce thickens during the broiling phase. 🙂
Here’s the video so you can see for yourself the magic of how you can make Mac and Cheese in one pot! With no cream!!
Regular readers have probably noticed that cast iron cookware appears often in my recipes. It’s because I love recipes that start off on the stove then finish in the oven – one of my favourite techniques. And cast iron cookware is so fantastic for even distribution and retention of heat on both the stove and in the oven.
It’s also the #1 culprit for the curses and screeches of pain that occurs more regularly than I care to admit.
I just forget HOW GOOD they are with heat retention, and how hot they stay even after a decent period of time out of the oven. I underestimate how long it takes for the dutch ovens to cool down (ages and ages!) and go to grab the pot with my bare hands. Other times, I can’t find my oven mitts so I try to take it out of the oven using a flimsy dishcloth instead (ouch ouch ouch!).
So it’s with many thanks to Burnaid that I’ve created a guide for what to do if you burn yourself. I really hope you never yourself, but this is important information that everyone should know so please take a minute to read it. 2 easy important steps. Do you know what they are?
And know that you can always easily find it on my site because I’ve created a page especially for it now so you can find it under About on my menu bar.?
OK! So back to this Mac N Cheese….hmmmm. Not sure what else to say about this!
√ One pot
√ Creamy and cheesy
√ Complete meal
√ No cream
Errrm….ticked all my boxes for an easy, scrumptious midweek meal! 😉 – Nagi x
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb / 500g skinless chicken breast or thigh fillets , cut into bite size pieces
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 small onion , finely chopped
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk , low fat
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 2 cups macaroni / elbow pasta (Note 1)
- 1 large head of broccoli , broken into florets (or 1 1/2 smaller ones)
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups grated cheese (cheddar, tasty or gruyere)
- 1/4 cup panko (or ordinary breadcrumbs)
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
Heat oil in a deep heavy based skillet or dutch oven over high heat. Add chicken and cook until just cooked - it's fine if it's still raw inside. Remove chicken into a bowl. (Note 2)
Reduce heat to medium and melt butter. Add garlic and onion and saute for 5 minutes until onion is translucent. Add flour and cook for 1 minute.
Pour in half the milk and whisk it in so the flour butter mixture melts. It should thicken quite quickly - around 30 seconds. Pour the remaining milk in, whisking constantly, then add the water, salt and pepper.
Turn the heat up to medium high and cook, whisking occasionally, for around 3 to 5 minutes until you start seeing steam rising from the white sauce when you whisk it.
Add the macaroni and chicken, stir, then top with broccoli.
Place the lid on and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven, switch oven to broiler/grill on high.
Remove lid (Note 3), stir through cheese, then sprinkle over panko and parmesan. (Will still look bit watery at this stage).
Place pot under the broiler/grill for 5 minutes, or until top is golden.
Remove, then let it stand for 5 minutes before serving (sauce thickens quickly).
1. Don't use the teeny tiny macaroni, use the macaroni that is about 1.2cm/1/2" long. In Australia, the pasta used in Mac and Cheese is called "Elbows". The pasta labelled as "macaroni" is tiny - almost the size of jasmine rice - and it will cook far too quickly in this recipe.
2. Don't worry if you have brown bits on the bottom of your pan. It might mix into the sauce but it shouldn't make the sauce brown. You can see in the video that I have quite a bit of brown bits on the base of the pan but my sauce still ends up being nice and white.
3. When you take it out of the oven, there should still be plenty of liquid, quite watery. The pasta will be almost cooked, but not quite. It finishes cooking in the next step, and the sauce thickens too (especially when resting).
4. As with all pastas, this becomes less saucy the longer it sits out. So eat it while it's hot and fresh! Leftovers are brilliant to use for Leftover Pasta Fritters.
5. Nutrition per serving, assuming this is made using chicken breast and serves 5.