Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Roast Chicken, Smoked Mozzarella, and Rosemary

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.

Reprinted with permission from the publisher, Kyle Books, from The Perfectly Roasted Chicken by Mindy Fox. Copyright 2010.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Roast Chicken, Smoked Mozzarella, and Rosemary

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    Ingredients

    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish 1 1/2 cups medium shreds roast chicken
    good basic cooking salt, like kosher (for water) 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces)
    1/2 pound penne pasta 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced 2 1/2 cups whole milk, heated to a simmer
    fine sea salt 2 garlic cloves, peeled
    1 1/2 cups smoked mozzarella or scamorza cheese, coarsely grated (1/2 pound) freshly ground black pepper

    directions

    Total:
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    • 1

      Preheat the oven to 450ºF with the rack in the middle. Grease a 1 1/2-quart gratin or baking dish with butter.

    • 2

      Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain and run under cold water. Transfer to a large bowl.

    • 3

      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.

    • 4

      Add the onion to the pasta and stir to combine, then add the mozzarella, chicken, 2/3 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and rosemary. Stir again to combine.

    • 5

      Melt the butter in a 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 11/2 teaspoons salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking, then reduce the heat and very gently simmer, whisking occasionally, until the béchamel is thickened (the sauce should thickly coat the back of a spoon), about 10 minutes. Discard the garlic before adding the béchamel to the pasta, along with generous pepper, and stir to combine thoroughly.

    • 6

      Transfer the mixture to the gratin and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and more pepper. Bake until bubbling and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

    notes

    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.

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