Every part of this dish was loved by my entire family. Broccoli florets, pasta and white meat chicken are always in my fridge, freezer or pantry. I also keep a lot of cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese in the fridge to make quick quesadillas or pizza for the family when time is tight and I need to get a quick snack or meal on the table.
My kids adore mac and cheese and broccoli is one vegetable they happily eat without fussing. So putting these two together was definitely win-win for them. My husband must have been just as excited when he smelled this pasta in the oven because he was the first in line when the dish came out the oven.
The funny thing is that I always have make two baking dishes so I have one for the family to dig into right away and one for me to take my photographs. I usually get to enjoy the meal alone (and it's usually reheated) by the time I'm done with all the blogging stuff.
That's okay, I am just excited that I get to hear them enjoying every bite while I photograph the dish. They are my best and most honest critics so I always know when there is a lot of "yums" happening that something good just came out of the kitchen. This is definitely a winner, winner pasta and chicken dinner.
Broccoli Chicken Mac and Cheese
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer
12-16oz box of tube style pasta (ziti, penne, rigatoni)
3-4 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets
3-5 cups poached chicken cut into bite size pieces
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 jalapeno finely chopped
2-3 Tbs butter or margarine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
red chili flakes (to taste)
2 Tbs flour
1 cup pasta water (reserved from cooking pasta)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (divided)
Step 1: Poach chicken. To poach chicken, place in a pot and cover chicken with water. Bring water to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through for about 30-40 minutes. Drain chicken, allow chicken to cool and cut into bite-size pieces.
Step 2: Boil pasta in salted water 1 minute shy of fully cooked. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining. Set drained pasta aside.
Step 3: In a large pan, add butter or margarine with the onion and jalapeno and a little salt and black pepper. When onions starts to soften add chili flakes, garlic powder and dried thyme.
Next stir in the flour and cook with other ingredients well. Then add the pasta water slowly and stir well. Next add the broccoli. Mix well and lower the heat to medium and cook until the broccoli begins to soften.
Add the poached diced chicken, all of the cheddar cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese and the milk. Stir well until the cheese melts and cheese sauce forms.
Then add the cooked pasta into the cheese and toss well. Taste for salt and seasoning. Adjust as needed.
Place the pasta, chicken and broccoli in to a buttered baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes and the cheese is melted. Serve hot. Enjoy.
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