A Mac & Cheese masterpiece!
ROASTED CHICKEN AND PIMENTO MAC AND CHEESE
cooking spray (for greasing)
1 pound cavatappi pasta
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus more for greasing)
1 small yellow onion (peeled, minced)
1 jalapeno (stemmed, seeded, minced)
2 cloves garlic (peeled, minced)
1 teaspoon paprika (plus more to garnish)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 and 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
2 and 1/2 cups monterey jack cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup cream cheese (softened)
1 cup pimentos (drained, finely chopped)
3 cups roasted chicken (shredded)
2 cups butter crackers (crushed)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the butter, onions, jalapeno, garlic and stir to combine. Season with salt. Cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the paprika, cayenne, flour, and allow to cook until toasted, about 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Continue to whisk until sauce has thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes, allowing the flour taste to cook out and adding more milk as necessary. Season with salt and pepper, then whisk in mustard powder, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Working in batches if necessary, whisk in the cheddar, monterey jack, and cream cheese until all is incorporated and melted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pimentos and roasted chicken. Re-season with hot sauce, salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in the cooked cavatappi until thoroughly incorporated.
Top with crushed butter crackers and more paprika and transfer to the oven. Bake in the Dutch oven until golden brown and bubbly, about 30-45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving!
Tip: Remove the jalapeno and hot sauce if you prefer a mild mac and cheese! You can also bake the pasta bake in a casserole dish rather than a Dutch oven.