Hye Thyme Cafe: Pesto Chicken Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pesto Chicken Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Pesto Chicken Baked Macaroni and Cheese : Hye Thyme Cafe

Ahhh, winter comfort food!I love Baked Macaroni and Cheese. I usually make it with jalapenos nowadays, but I was in a pesto mood and had a rotisserie chicken in the fridge, so I decided to try something different. I'm glad I did. It was great hot the first time around, and I was nibbling on it cold out of the fridge for the next few days before freezing the rest.

12 oz pkg small shell pasta
4 T butter
4 T flour
2 1/4 c milk
black pepper
8 oz muenster cheese, shredded or fine diced (see note*)
3 slices American cheese, cut or broken into pieces
3/4 c pesto
2 c torn or diced cooked chicken
2 T grated Parmesan
2 T seasoned dry bread crumbs

  1. Cook the pasta to al dente in lightly salted water
  2. While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the butter and flour over medium heat until it becomes foamy and thickens
  3. Slowly whisk the milk into the butter/flour mixture and bring up to a simmer
  4. Whisk the cheese into the milk mixture, a little at a time, until melted
  5. Season with black pepper  
  6. When your pasta is done, stir in the pesto to get it nicely coated, then add the chicken
  7. Pour about half of the cheese mixture over the pasta, stirring well to make sure it has a chance to fill in the shells
  8. Add as much of the remaining cheese mixture as you like - just so it's not floating over the top
  9. Transfer the mixture to a lightly buttered or sprayed casserole dish
  10. Mix together the Parmesan and bread crumbs and sprinkle over the top, then dot with butter
  11. Bake at 325 for about an hour until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbly

* NOTE:  If you have some odds and ends bits of cheese in the fridge that need to be used up, go right ahead and throw them in. If it's more than an ounce or two, you might also want to increase the milk to compensate. If you have extra sauce once you've set up your casserole, doctor it up with some herbs or spices over the next few days and use it for a sauce over veggies. Or freeze the rest for another occasion.

Whisk butter and flour into a blonde roux
Add milk and cheeses until melted, then season with black pepper

Add torn/diced chicken to pesto/shell mixture
Stir pesto into cooked shells

Bake at 325 for about an hour until golden and bubblyAfter adding the cheese, sprinkle Parm/bread crumbs over top and dot with butter

Pesto Chicken Baked Macaroni and Cheese : Hye Thyme Cafe

Pesto Chicken Baked Macaroni and Cheese : Hye Thyme Cafe

Pesto Chicken Baked Macaroni and Cheese : Hye Thyme Cafe

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