• Cheyenne Crennan

Chicken Bacon Ranch Baked Mac + Cheese

This mac + cheese came from pure curiosity and what is considered a favorite pizza topping in our household. Matt's favorite speciality pizza, because we rarely ever, ever order it, but he swears it's his favorite. When I think "chicken bacon ranch" I taste the herb and cheese roll they used to have (they may still, I have no idea) and the smell of a Subway. High school all come pouring back.

We ordered this on pizza, and while I was very much a fan of the flavors going on inside my mouth, it wasn't cheesy, gooey and over the top enough. I felt this urge to turn this into an extremely cheesy, bake with pasta and flavor just doesn't quit. For that you need fresh shredded Monterey cheddar jack, juicy chicken, bacon and some of it's grease and it needs to be a macaroni and cheese to change all baked macaroni and cheese you've ever had.

The trick is to create a sink full of dishes, get flour all over the counter tops, and devour what is to date the best version of chicken, bacon and ranch we have ever eaten. Sorry in advance to pizza and subs.

What you need:

1 box of medium shells

3 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 cups of shredded white cheddar cheese

3 CUPS half n' half

3 CUPS milk

7 strips of bacon

ranch dressing (recipe below *requires an hour to rest*), two hefty drizzles across the top

3 chicken cutlets

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 tsp dried parsley

4 TBSP flour

4 TBSP butter

Ranch dressing recipe:

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayo

2 TBSP of buttermilk

2 TBSP of dill pickle juice

2 tsp of garlic powder

2 tsp of onion powder

a sprinkle of dried dill (optional)

1 tsp of parsley

1 tsp salt and pepper

a pinch dried oregano

a pinch of cayenne (optional)

whisk it all together, let cool for an hour

How to make it:

  1. Prep the chicken cutlets by salting each side and letting them rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

  2. On a baking sheet lay a piece of parchment paper, then layer a baking sheet full of bacon strips. Once the oven reaches 350 degrees slide in the tray of bacon and cook until crispy then remove from the oven, and chop into pieces, set aside

  3. While the bacon cooks, fill a large pot with water, and heat on high

  4. In a separate pan, melt 4 TBSP of butter on low/medium heat (I do low/medium on convection so I recommend medium on regular settings)

  5. Once the butter is just melted, a tablespoon at a time, add in flour, whisking constantly

  6. Let the flour cook for 2 minutes, continuing to whisk every couple minutes

  7. Cup by cup, slowly pour in the cream, whisk whisk whisk

  8. Season the roux with all of the seasonings and continue to whisk

  9. Water will be boiling, add in the shells and cook for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes (Note: your bacon is probably done, take it out, but keep the oven temp at 350 degrees you will need that later)

  10. In another separate pan (you may need to remove the roux from heat if you don';t have enough large burners, thats okay, cover it and when you put it back on heat just add a splash of milk and whisk, whisk, whisk...) pour a drizzle of olive oil on medium heat, give it a minute to heat up then lay the chicken cutlets in

  11. Cook for 3 minutes or until the down side is golden brown, then flip and repeat (Note: if you haven't chopped your bacon chop it)

  12. Remove the chicken from heat and let rest, (return the roux to low heat if you had to remove it to make the chicken)

  13. Reserve a bit of pasta water, then drain

  14. Grease a large baking dish and pour the pasta in, begin adding all of the shredded cheese, pour in a little pasta water and stir it all together

  15. Add in the chopped bacon

  16. Pour the warm roux over the top of the pasta and cheese and stir until blended

  17. Put the baking dish in the oven for 5 minutes

  18. While the pasta is in the oven, chop the chicken into strips

  19. Pull the baking dish out, add the chicken to the top, return to the oven for 2 minutes

  20. Turn off oven heat and switch to low broil, watch carefully for 2 minutes, you want the cheese to start bubbling

  21. Remove from the oven, let rest for one minute and then serve.

  22. Enjoy! xo

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