Mac & Cheese With Bacon, Brussels Sprouts & Blue Cheese
by Kelly Hogge, Magpie Café, Sacramento, California
- 6 boneless skinless Smart Chicken breasts
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 4 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
- 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
- 16 ounces macaroni, cooked and drained
- 2 cups bacon, cooked and chopped
- 2 cups herbed bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a sauté pan over medium-high, heat two tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Sear chicken breasts until golden on both sides, then transfer to a sheet pan.
Toss Brussels sprouts with two remaining tablespoons vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Add Brussels sprouts to sheet pan with chicken and cook at 375ºF for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. When cooled, cube chicken and halve Brussels sprouts.
To a saucepan, add wine and bring to a simmer. Add bay leaf, chicken stock, and cream. Season with salt and pepper and return to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch with two tablespoons of warm water until mixture is smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the simmering pot. Remove from heat and add blue cheese and Jack cheese, stirring until melted.
To assemble: Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, chicken, Brussels sprouts, bacon, and sauce. Spread mixture into a 13-by-9-inch pan. Combine three tablespoons melted butter with bread crumbs and sprinkle on top of pasta mixture. Bake 20 minutes at 400ºF or until bread crumbs are golden brown.
Pairing: Beer: Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA; Wine: Laguna Ranch Chardonnay or Graham’s 20-year Tawny Port