I bought this cast iron skillet for this mac and cheese. If I buy any kitchenware with a purpose, you know this is serious business. Mac and cheese in a skillet is the only way I shall ever make mac and cheese again. Now let’s see how many times I say mac and cheese in this post.
I admit that I’m not a huge fan of mac and cheese. But mac and cheese is great. It sees you through dreary college days and caffeinated nights during finals week. But now that I’m not cramming in last-minute studying with my tabletop buried under notes that are all but illegible, I can eat mac and cheese that I would actually step into the kitchen to make. From scratch, with cheese that I will grate myself. Because there is nothing like freshly grated cheese I’m tellin ya.
I like some contrast in flavor and texture. And the flavors in this are just incredible. The roasted chicken lends a barbequed note that kicks up the classic mac and cheese up a good few notches. I season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper and spices but of course, you can go wild with flavor combinations. So basically, when in doubt, roast some chicken.
To me, a mac and cheese that is not baked is not mac and cheese at all. Bye Velveeta. So bake this skillet with more cheese and a nice sprinkling of bread crumbs for that light crunch!
If you’re more into visuals, check how I make this!
- 2 chicken thighs (boneless fillet)
- 1 cup kale chopped
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4tbsp all-purpose four
- 3 cups milk
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt (it looks like a lot but you will need this much)
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated plus more to top before baking
- ⅓ cups bread crumbs (moistened with 2 tbsp of melted butter)
- 8oz large elbow macaroni
- Season chicken thighs with salt, pepper and paprika to taste and roast them in the oven for 30 mins at 400 degrees F. (I always roast them for 35 minutes because I find the texture to be chewy even when the chicken thighs have reached the right temperature).
- Chop the chicken into small pieces once done. Keep this aside to add later to the cheese sauce.
- For the cheese sauce, melt butter in a saucepan followed by flour. Stir for two minutes on a low heat to cook off the raw taste of flour.
- Next, slowly pour in half the milk into the saucepan and turn up the flame to medium. Keep adding the remaining milk as the mixture thickens up. This may take up to 20 minutes so be patient.
- While the sauce is cooking, boil macaroni for a minute less than what the instructions on the packet says.
- In another pan, add a little bit of oil and sautee kale with a touch of salt until soft and wilted. Keep aside to add later to the cheese sauce.
- Once you have achieved a thick consistency for the sauce, add in salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg, along with the chopped chicken and kale and stir.
- Next, toss the grated cheddar cheese and stir until cheese is melted into the sauce.
- Next, spread your macaroni in a 10 inch cast iron skillet or any casserole dish that you have.
- Pour the prepared cheese sauce on top and toss the macaroni so everything is well combined.
- Finally top with more cheese and bread crumbs.
- Bake in the oven at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until mac and cheese is golden brown and bubbly. (I bake the mac and cheese for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F and turn on the broiler for the last five minutes to ensure the top is brown but not overbake).
- Be sure not to bake for too long because your Mac and Cheese will become Mac and String!