by Judy Kim
Skillet Mac and Cheese WITH CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
This is my attempt to make Mac and Cheese the main event at dinner. C'mon, it has chicken AND broccoli!
But seriously, I never used to make dishes that required a bechamel sauce aka white sauce. It seemed a little intimidating, but once I realized it was just flour with milk whisked in, it somehow seemed less daunting. I guess what I'm trying to say is that no one should avoid cooking because there might be some tricky cooking vocabulary involved. You won't know if you can do it unless you try. What do you have to lose? 45 minutes and the chance of having gooey Mac and Cheese on the table on a weeknight. I'd say it's worth it.
Macaroni elbows are usually the selection of choice, but I love cavatappi. It has more texture and ridges from the loose corkscrew shape that hold the al dente texture better. If you have a little truffle oil or truffle salt, those are always welcome ingredients.
8 ounces cavatappi pasta
2 cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 garlic, minced
2 leeks, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces, well washed and dried
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 pound freshly grated mozzarella (save half to put on top)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta less 2 minutes. Strain the pasta and set aside. Add broccoli to pasta water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet on medium heat melt 1 tablespoon butter and toast breadcrumbs. Stir with a wooden spoon to ensure even browning, approximately 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a large oven safe skillet over medium-high heat melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add garlic, leeks, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in milk until well incorporated and then fold in parmesan and pecorino cheese. Turn off heat. Mix in the pasta, broccoli and chicken.
Top with toasted breadcrumbs and mozzarella. Bake for 15 minutes and serve immediately.