Classic baked mac and cheese gets a comforting and family-friendly chicken bacon ranch flavor twist
Course: Main Course
Keyword: chicken bacon ranch, mac and cheese
3cupsshredded chicken(see recipe notes for substitutions)
1ozpackage dried ranch dressing seasoning
3Tbspall purpose flour
2cupshalf and half
1 1/2cupsshredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
1cupshredded cheddar cheese, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
1lb.dry large elbow pasta
Boil pasta 1 minute shy of al dente (see package for approximate time), drain. Stir with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 F degrees and butter a 3 quart baking dish. Set aside.
To a large, deep skillet, or dutch oven, add bacon and cook over MED-LOW heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate, then drain all but 1 Tbsp of the bacon fat.
Increase heat to MED, and add shredded chicken and ranch seasoning, and cook, stirring to coat. Cook 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Add butter and garlic, cooking about 30 seconds, until garlic is fragrant. Add flour and whisk together to form a paste. Slowly add in heavy cream and half and half, whisking vigorously as you add the liquids. Once all liquids are in the pot, cook, whisking often, for 3-5 minutes, until thickened.
Stir in all of the Parmesan cheese, half of the mozzarella and half of the cheddar. Melt cheese completely, then stir in cooked pasta, chicken, and half of the bacon pieces.
Transfer to prepared baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella, cheddar, and bacon. Bake 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted.
Shredded chicken can be substituted with 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 4-5 boneless skinless chicken thighs. In step 4, add chicken and ranch, then cook until golden brown and cooked through to an internal temperature of 165 F degrees.