What goes good with mac n’ cheese?
How about bacon? Wrapped around a jalapeño? Smoked? Then sauteed with pulled roasted chicken?
Weekends are feasting days at our house. And every once in a while, Baby Daddy joins in the feastivities by smoking up some meat products in our grill top smoker. Which, btw, was one of the best food related $45 we’ve spent to date.
Last weekend he came home from the grocery store carrying a goody bag full of thick cut slab bacon, fresh jalapeños and a rotisserie chicken. A serious man with a serious plan. A serious plan to do this:
Smoked Jalapeño Bacon Chicken Mac n’ Cheese
makes 6 – 8 servings
1/2 lb uncooked pasta (I prefer Pipe shaped or large elbow)
1 medium sized fresh jalapeño
6 slices thick cut slab bacon (from the butcher counter)
1 clove fresh garlic (minced)
2 tbsp butter
2 cups pulled rotisserie chicken (diced)
4 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk (at room temperature)
8 oz colby jack cheese (cut into small pieces)
2 oz velveeta (said it before, I’ll say it again. because it’s just good)
salt & pepper to taste (I actually didn’t add either because the bacon and chicken were already adding enough flavor and seasoning.)
Line bottom of smoking pan with oak or hickory chips then cover the drip tray with foil. Wrap the jalapeño with two slices of the bacon and arrange in the smoking pan with the rest of the bacon. Smoke on preheated grill on medium heat for 20 minutes. (If you don’t have a smoking pan, you can also roast the bacon and jalapeño in an oven at 375 degrees. Use a wire rack on top of a sheet pan and roast in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes.)
Dice the bacon wrapped jalapeño (remove the seeds if you’re into a mellow heat) and set aside. Use kitchen shears to cut the rest of the cooked bacon into small pieces and set aside in a separate pile.
In a medium saute pan, melt the 2 tbsp butter and cook the minced garlic for just a few minutes then add the pulled chicken and saute for 5 – 10 minutes. Add the diced bacon wrapped jalapeño to the pan with the chicken and saute for an additional 2 – 3 minutes to marry the flavors.
In a medium saucepan, boil the pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain the pasta and pour into a casserole dish. Top the cooked pasta with the chicken/jalapeño/bacon mixture, gently stir to combine and set aside while you make the cheese sauce.
In the same saucepan the pasta was cooked in, melt the 4 tbsp butter then add the flour. Whisk until bubbly and slightly translucent. Add in the milk and whisk continuously until thickened. Slowly add in the cheeses and whisk until completely melted and creamy. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta mix and gently stir to coat.
Top with the remaining bacon pieces and bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
Be prepared. The kick of the jalapeños, combined with the salty cured flavor of the bacon, savory chicken and creamy cheesy mac is a magical combination. Alakazam. Serious. Food. Magic.