Jalapeno Popper Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
Adapted from Lauren's Latest
4 slices of bacon
2 tbsp bacon grease
1/2 large onion, diced
2 jalapenos, sliced
1 pound elbow macaroni
For The Sauce:
4 tbsp butter
5 tbsp AP flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 ounces cream cheese
1 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Wing's Buffalo sauce
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated provolone
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 chicken breast, cooked & shredded (optional)
For The Topping:
1 cup corn flakes, crushed
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
cooked bacon, crumbled
In a large cast iron skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Remove from pan, drain on paper towel-lined plate. Once cooled, crumble & set aside. Pour off excess bacon drippings, keeping 2 tbsp in skillet. Saute onion & jalapeno in skillet until soft, about 6 minutes over medium heat. Set aside.
Place chicken breast in pot of boiling water & cook for 10-ish minutes. Remove from pan, drain on paper towel-lined plate. Once cooled, shred & set aside.
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Salt water generously & cook pasta 2 minutes short of package directions. Drain & set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour & cook 1-2 minutes. Whisk in milk, cream, salt, pepper & nutmeg. Increase heat to medium high & continue mixing until sauce thickens.
Remove from heat. Stir in cream cheese & hot sauce until melted smoothly into the sauce. Pour cooked pasta & sauteed onions & jalapenos into the sauce. Stir to coat. Stir in cheeses & chicken.
Pour into a baking dish & spread out evenly. Top with blue cheese, corn flakes & crumbled bacon. Bake 20-30 minutes until top of macaroni has browned. Remove from oven & serve hot.
Let's talk about the cheese. I felt like I bought all the cheese in Publix. When I got home & unloaded everything, John said, very seriously, "Kim, I don't think you should use all that cheese." It's like he doesn't even know me! I used all the cheese, although I did realize while typing this out that I forgot to add half of the blue cheese crumbles. Oops!
This recipe was really good. I know, how could it not be? I'd probably never make this for dinner or anything, but for a cook-out with a lot of guys, it was perfect! I'm assuming it was a hit based on the fact that there was nothing left in the pan. Surprisingly, it wasn't overwhelmingly cheesy or creamy. It had an almost casserole-ish feel to it.
If I do make this again, I'll probably use less chicken, or no chicken at all. It just isn't necessary. I'll also spice it up more. Maybe add more Frank's hot sauce & use a little cayenne. And I'll change the topping. I'll probably skip the corn flakes & use a combo of panko & breadcrumbs instead. All of that being said, this is REALLY GOOD. Highly recommend it for a cook-out, tailgate, Super Bowl party, etc.