This was so good! This recipe was in the latest Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine. We're always looking for macaroni and cheese recipes, and we love grilled chicken, so this seemed like the perfect way to join the two. This recipe can serve up to 6 people, but if you're cooking for a smaller crowd, go ahead and make the whole thing; it was great when I reheated it for lunch the next day.
I couldn't ever get the sauce to thicken, even though I cooked it for long enough, so once it was in the casserole dish, I baked it at 350 for about 15 minutes before putting it under the broiler for a few minutes. The only thing I'd change next time, for appearance's sake only, would be to use penne instead of macaroni; it would taste the same but probably look a little more "grown up." I love Rachael's recipes, but I can never get them done in 30 minutes. If you are good, you can get this done on quickly; if you're like me, it's more of an hour-long meal.
Grilled Chicken and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
6 slices smoky bacon
1 lb pasta--penne or macaroni
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
4 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 rounded tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
Nutmeg, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
Preheat oven to 375. Arrange the bacon on a slotted broiler pan or on a rack placed over a baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Chop and reserve. Switch on the broiler, and position the rack in the center of the oven.
Bring a pot of water to a boil; salt it, add the pasta, and cook to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
While the pasta is working, heat a grill pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil to coat lightly, then season evenly with the paprika, salt, and pepper. Grill the chicken for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Transfer to a cutting board and thinly slice pieces.
While the chicken cooks, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until light golden and very soft, 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken stock, then the milk. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking, until the sauce is thick, 3-4 minutes. Add the thyme and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the cheeses until melted.
Add the chicken, bacon, and sauce to the pasta and transfer to a 9"x13" casserole dish. If the dish needs to be thickened, bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Otherwise, broil until bubbling and browned, about 5 minutes.