While grilling beer can chickens on Sunday, I made it a point to have leftovers (which means I cooked 2 birds). There are countless dishes you can make with perfectly cooked chicken – enchiladas, chicken salad, pot pie….or even BBQ Chicken Macaroni and Cheese. The ultimate comfort food mixed with succulent chicken, your favorite BBQ sauce, and enough vegetables to call it a one pot meal. Top it off with garlic breadcrumbs and now we’re getting ridiculous….
The complete recipe, with measurements can be found at the bottom of the post
First you need the leftovers from Sunday’s Beer Can Chicken. Oh, you don’t follow my blog and cook every one of my recipes? Ok….here are some suitable alternatives then : a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store (remove the skin and de-bone), or boneless skinless chicken breasts (season and grill or pan sear). Shred the meat and toss in your favorite BBQ sauce.
Next we need to caramelize some onions. There is a big difference between onions that have been sauteed and onions that are caramelized Both have their time and place, but today we are looking for melt in your mouth sweetness that takes a little time and patience. I like to start with a butter and olive oil blend on medium high. Slice your onions in half then into thin-ish rings (1/4 inch). Saute the onions until the edges start to color. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook (stirring regularly) until the onions have turned that beautiful golden color. This should take no less than 30 minutes. When they are to your ideal done-ness, take the pan off the heat and cover with a lid. The trapped steam will help release the layer of sweet onion glaze that is clinging stingily to the bottom of the pan.
The topping for this dish is garlic bread crumbs. You can use any leftover bread to make bread crumbs. My favorite way to make these crumbs is with leftover garlic bread. Cut it into large cubes, pulse in a food processor, and call it done. The garlic, oil, and toasting is already taken care of! Unfortunately, I don’t have any garlic bread handy today…. not a problem, just a few extra steps. Start by lightly toasting your choice of bread. Cube and put it in the food processor with a small clove of garlic. Pulse until you get fine crumbs. Then toss the crumbs in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt & pepper.
As far as cheese goes, I prefer a blend (usually of what I have on hand). Today I have extra sharp cheddar, colby jack, and pepper jack. I also prefer my cheese to be freshly shredded – conveniently I already have the food processor out. The best way to get creamy mac & cheese is with sour cream. While the pasta is still hot, toss it with a bit of butter and a cup of sour cream – just enough to coat. I like to add the spinach now too, so the heat will wilt it down some. Then add in the cheese and spices.
Fold in the onions and tomatoes. Last but not least the chicken. Once everything is evenly distributed, pour it into a lightly greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and bake until Browning and bubbly.
As you can see, this recipe makes a ton of food! If you don’t intend on eating this much, ether halve the recipe or freeze a portion. Just leave off the bread crumbs until you are ready to bake. If you feel like changing things up, some good additions would be green peas, bacon, mushrooms, red bell pepper, leftover baked beans, or broccoli.
- beer can chicken (about 2 cups meat)
- 1 lb. pasta, cooked and drained
- 2 large onions, caramelized
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- fresh spinach (1/2 a 9 oz bag)
- 1/4 Cup BBQ sauce
- garlic bread crumbs
- 1 Cup sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 16 ounces shredded cheese
- 1 teaspoon each Cajun seasoning, mustard powder, black pepper
In a large skillet, heat 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions until starting to brown. Lower heat and continue to cook and stir until onions are golden and cooked down.
Toss chicken in BBQ sauce and set aside.
Toss pasta with 2 Tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup sour cream. Fold in spinach. Add in cheese, salt, pepper, and mustard powder – stir until pasta is coated. Carefully fold in chicken, tomatoes, onions and spinach. Pour mac n cheese in a greased baking dish, evenly sprinkle over bread crumbs.
Bake at 350 for 45 – 55 minutes (or until breadcrumbs are golden and filling is bubbly)