Garlic Chicken Mac and Cheese
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).Advertisement
Prepare a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Cook chicken in skillet until no longer pink in the center, 5 to 7 minutes; season with 1 tablespoon garlic powder and transfer to a baking dish.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, 8 minutes; drain and mix with chicken in the baking dish.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook flour in melted butter until the flour is cooked and the mixture forms a roux, about 5 minutes. Stream milk into the pot while stirring to mix with the roux completely; cook until just about simmering, about 5 minutes more. Add Cheddar cheese in small amounts to the sauce and stir to melt completely before adding the next portion; cook and stir until thick and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken and macaroni; stir to coat.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in the skillet in which you cooked the chicken over medium heat. Stir remaining tablespoon garlic powder into the melted butter; cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir crushed crackers into the butter mixture to coat; spread over the chicken and macaroni mixture in the baking dish.
Bake in preheated oven until the topping is crispy, 35 to 45 minutes.
The garlic measurement is more a suggestion. Go for it if you love garlic; reduce it if you don't. It can also be made without garlic at all.
Do not use pre-shredded cheese. It's coated with cornstarch to prevent clumping and will change the texture and thickness of the sauce.
You can reduce fat and calories by using skim milk and part-skim cheese.
I usually use 8 ounces Cheddar cheese and 8 ounces of Colby-Jack. Mix it up. Pick your favorites. Even Swiss cheese works.