Baked Macaroni And Cheese With Roast Chicken, Smoked Mozzarella, And Rosemary
A Bird in the Oven and Then Some
by Mindy Fox
There are a few steps here and maybe an extra pot or two to clean, but this mac and cheese is crazy delicious (in other words, totally worth it). Have your onion sliced, cheeses grated, chicken shredded, and herbs chopped before going to the stove, and you'll sail right through.
Serves 4 to 6
• Good basic kitchen salt, like kosher (for water)
• 1/2 pound penne pasta
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion, thinly sliced
• Fine sea salt
• 1/2 pound smoked mozzarella or scamorza cheese, coarsely grated (1½ cups)
• 1½ cups medium shreds roast chicken
• 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces)
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
• 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
• 2½ cups whole milk, heated to a simmer
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled
• Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Grease a 1½ quart gratin or baking dish.
Bring a large pot of well-salted -water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, then drain and run under cold water. Transfer to a large bowl.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of fine sea salt, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
Add the onion to the pasta and stir to combine, then add the mozzarella, chicken, 2/3 cup of the Parmesan, and rosemary. Stir again to combine.
Melt the butter in a medium-heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook over low heat, whisking, for 3 minutes. Add the hot milk in a fast stream, whisking vigorously, then whisk in the garlic cloves and 1½ teaspoons salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking, then reduce the heat and very gently simmer, -whisking occasionally, until the bechamel is thickened (the sauce should thickly coat the back of a spoon), about 10 minutes. Discard the garlic cloves before adding the bechamel to the pasta, along with several generous turns of the pepper null, and stir to combine.
Transfer into the gratin and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and more pepper. Bake until bubbling and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Get the good stuff and grate your own.
Always use good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, purchase the cheese in a whole block (versus grated) and grate it just before using. Pre-grated options might be convenient, but they greatly compromise flavor and are more expensive to boot.