Do you trust me? You should trust me. In the past I’ve brought you chuffins, incredible salads, beautiful meringue nests and the perfect chocolate roulade. My greed steers me well. I write good recipes. Don’t you think? Do you trust me?
The reason I’m asking you this is I’m going to need you to trust me that this is a really, really good recipe.
I saw on Instagram someone posting about this buffalo chicken mac ‘n’ cheese they’d eaten in New York, and I immediately wanted to replicate it. Buffalo chicken is basically chicken in a rich, spicy, sticky, decadent, tomatoey sauce. And we all know what mac ‘n’ cheese is. I’m a big fan.
You will make this for friends — it’s far too decadent to eat on your own, even for me. You’ll pull it out of the oven and be doubtful — the tomato sauce will have bubbled up and spilt over the pan, and the neat lines of yellow and red you made will have blurred into each other. Your friends will be even more doubtful when you set the burning hot dish on the table and sink a spoon into a sloppy, gooey mess. You’ll dish it up onto plates, or into bowls, and they’ll sniff at it apprehensively. But it’ll smell good, so they’ll try it. And then they’ll try a little bit more.
They’ll get the intense smack of flavour from the buffalo spices, and the creamy comfort of the cheese. They’ll get the soft chewy chicken and the bite of al dente macaroni. The fact that the neat lines of yellow cheese and red sauce didn’t stay neat isn’t a problem any more, because they taste much better swirled anyway.
Soon the air will be full of the sound of happy friends eating a delicious dinner, and no-one will doubt your culinary prowess ever again. Serve with garlic bread, because everything is better with garlic bread.
To serve six, you will need:
- 3 chicken breasts
- 250g of macaroni
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 2 peppers, diced
- 2 cartons of passata
- A pinch of brown sugar
- Worcestershire sauce
- A generous knob of butter
- 240ml of milk
- Two teaspoons of cumin
- Chilli flakes
- Two tablespoons of paprika
- At least 350g of mature cheddar, grated
- A ball of mozarella
- Place the chicken and the macaroni in a large saucepan. Cover with boiling water, then add a few inches more water. Add a generous pinch of salt, and cook for around 20 minutes. Drain. Set the macaroni aside. Pull out the chicken breasts, shred the chicken breasts, and set the meat aside. Keep the saucepan ready for later, too
- Meanwhile, fry the garlic and onion in a little oil on a low heat for five minutes. Add the peppers and fry for five minutes more. Tip in the passata, the cumin, a shake of chilli flakes (depending on how hot you like you food), the paprika, the sugar and a good splash of Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine, then stir through the shredded chicken. Season with salt and pepper and leave to bubble on a low heat
- In a small saucepan melt the butter. When I say a generous knob, I mean a GENEROUS knob
- Add the flour to the butter and stir to combine. Then add the milk, a splash at a time, mixing well between each addition. You’ll end up with a thick, gloopy sauce. Add around 200g of the cheddar and stir to melt
- Preheat the oven to 200C
- Put the macaroni back in the big saucepan and tip the cheese sauce over the top. Stir to coat the macaroni
- in an large, ovenproof dish, layer half of the buffalo chicken. Then add half of the macaroni and cheese. Top with the remaining half of the buffalo chicken mix and finally the rest of the mac ‘n’ cheese
- Tear the mozzarella ball to pieces and distribute over the top of the dish. Then sprinkle over the remaining cheddar
- Bake for around 20 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown