Can Mondays be decadent?
Because I think this one is.
It’s like velveeta shells and cheese on drugs. In a good way. And ten thousand times better.
Speaking of, those darn boxed shells are one of my guilty pleasures. I haven’t had them in years because I constantly feel forced to grab the organic whole wheat version from Trader Joe’s which tastes NOTHING like the old-school ones, but still. I kinda want some 1995 squeezy-cheese pack pasta in my life.
Not today though. Not today. We are making something a leeeetle more extravagant. But still easy. With lots of flavor pop.
Last summer I made a stovetop BBQ chicken mac and cheese and went nutso for it. In a sense, this recipe is a giant copout considering it’s not entirely different but it’s just so, so good. I’ve been wanting to create a buffalo version for at least a year and in my current buffalo infatuation, I’ve found my perfect combination of flavors for all things buffalo.
Somebody stop me.
So. This buffalo chicken mac isn’t TOO different from the baked version I shared a few years ago, but I personally find it a little simpler and ummm… you don’t have to turn on your oven in the 500 degree heat of summer!
At least I don’t exaggerate things at all.
Stovetop Buffalo Chicken Shells + Cheese
Yield: serves 4
Total Time: 40 minutes
4 cups whole wheat pasta shells
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup buffalo wing sauce
2 tablespoons flour
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
6 ounces freshly grated fontina cheese
4 ounces freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
4 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup freshly torn cilantro
Bring water to a boil for the pasta and cook according to the directions. While it's cooking, prepare the sauce and chicken below, but when pasta is finished, make sure to drain it and set aside.
Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add in the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Season the chicken with the salt, pepper, onion powder and smoked paprika. Add to the pot, stir and cover. Cook until the chicken is browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Toss with 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce and cook for another minute. Pour the chicken mixture into a bowl and set aside.
Keep the same pot over medium heat and add the remaining butter. Once melted, whisk in the flour to create a roux. It will be an orangey color after picking up the chicken/buffalo wing bits. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until it's thickened and fragrant. Pour in the milk and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the mustard, fontina, cheddar, 2 ounces of the gorgonzola and the parmesan. Stir until the cheese melts completely.
Add in the cooked shells and the chicken mixture and toss to coat. Drizzle in remaining buffalo wing sauce. Serve immediately with green onions, gorgonzola and cilantro on top!
[adapted from this stovetop BBQ chicken mac]