1 pound elbow macaroni or other short pasta
4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup (I use Healthy Request.)
1 1/2 cup Italian cheese blend, shredded
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain.
2. Cook bacon in large ovensafe nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towel lined plate with slotted spoon, leaving fat in skillet. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to skillet and cook until done, about 6 minutes. Remove chicken to small bowl or plate.
3. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Combine milk and soup. Gradually add milk mixture to skillet, stirring constantly. Bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Add Italian cheese blend, onion powder, garlic powder, dill and salt. Stir until cheese melts. Stir in pasta and chicken.
4. Heat broiler.
5. Sprinkle mac and cheese evenly with reserved bacon and Mexican cheese blend. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.
This recipe is from the 2011 Cooking Light Annual and the flavors are, indeed, reminiscent of ranch dressing. I’d say it was a success because both of the guys had seconds while I was still working through my original helping! The blends of cheeses worked well, the chicken and bacon added nice flavors, and this was a pretty tasty mac and cheese variety. It was also very easy to bring together – I did everything in the Dutch oven in order to spare my dishwasher.
If you’re pressed on time, you can always use multiple pans in order to do steps all at the same time. You can do the pasta in one pot, cook the bacon and chicken in another skillet, and then make the sauce in yet another pot. It’s entirely up to you. Just make sure that whatever dish goes in the oven at the end is broiler safe!