main, Recipes

Tuscan Mac & Cheese

This is a wonderfully rich and creamy meal! It took me a second crack at it before I felt confident enough to post this recipe, but that is the great thing about cooking, nothing is written in stone, you can play with any recipe however you see fit. This is the version of this recipe that worked for me.

Tuscan Mac & Cheese

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Credit: Cafe Delites

Ingredients

  • 2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 Spanish onion chopped fine
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 210 ml jarred sun-dried tomato strips in oil (reserve the oil)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 300g elbow macaroni uncooked
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley chopped

 

Directions

  1. Pound chicken to 1″ thickness then season with salt, pepper, paprika, dried parsley and 2 tsp of the oil . Heat the remaining oil in a large (12 inch or bigger) skillet or pot over medium high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden brown and cooked through with no pink in the middle .
  2. Transfer chicken to a warm plate, tent with foil and set aside
  3. In the same pan ,  add the butter and fry the onions and garlic just until the onions become translucent (approx. 2 min) stirring occasionally. Stir in the white wine and all allow it to simmer for approx 5 min or until it begins to reduce down
  4. Add the sun-dried tomatoes with 2 tbsp of the oil from the jar and cook for 1- 2 minutes
  5.  Stir in the flour and let it cook for about 1 minute. Then add the broth, and 2 1/2 cups of the milk, Italian herbs, salt and pepper, and bring to a low simmer
  6. Add the dry macaroni and stir as it comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir regularly while it cooks until the sauce thickens and the pasta is cooked al dente  (approx. 9-10 min)
  7. Add the spinach and stir until wilted
  8. Take the pot/skillet off of the stove and stir in all of the cheeses. Add salt and pepper to taste as needed. If the sauce is to thick, add the remaining milk 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches your desired thickness. remember that the sauce will thicken as it cools.
  9. Slice the chicken that you had set aside into strips and stir it through the pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and stir again. Serve immediately

The original recipe gives you different options of what cheeses and milk / cream to use. This is the version that worked best for me. I found that the half and half cream and the Gruyere cheese made the pasta to thick and dense no matter how much more cream you tried to add. Also make sure you stir that pasta as soon as you add it to the pan as it will stick to the bottom of the skillet almost instantly. Last but not least don’t rush the cook time on the pasta, make sure it is cooked to al dente, 9-10 minutes may not be enough time. Serve with some nice fresh garlic bread and you have a winner of a dish  Enjoy!!!! 

 

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