There is nothing I didn’t like the sound of in today’s recipe. Buffalo chicken? Oh yeah. Chili? Of course. Macaroni? Yeah, I’m a total carb-addict. So when I first came across this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac, all I could think was bring it on! The fact that it is actually ridiculously healthy too? I might have swooned. Or not, I tend to reserve swooning for ridiculously rich and decadent desserts. Or surprise flowers from my hubby. Or a good foot rub. But I digress.
This baked chili mac is a great, family-friendly, weeknight dinner. It is easy to make and uses easy to find ingredients. Plus, as I said, it’s healthy too. The chili mac is made with whole wheat macaroni (or regular if you just aren’t into the whole wheat pasta thing), chicken breast or ground turkey, carrots and celery – the veggies you’d have alongside your buffalo wings, and just a little cheese on top. Or a lot – I won’t tell. All in all, this Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac is a winner.
It also makes enough to feed an army – or six hungry adults. If you’re feeding kids, you might be able to eat for a week. Just make sure you keep an eye on it when you pop the pan under the broiler to melt the cheese. I thought about pretending that I intentionally browned my cheese to the point of being, well, brown… but that wouldn’t exactly be the case. I got distracted for a minute and let the broiler do its thing just a tad too long. Granted, crispy cheese is still delicious, but it is slightly less visually appealing. Keep an eye on yours, and your chili mac will look just as good as it tastes.
One Year Ago: We were busy unpacking from our move, and the kitchen was nowhere near ready to cook in!
Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac
Adapted from Rachael Ray
1 lb. whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small, bite-size pieces, or 2 lbs. ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/4 to 1/2 cup hot sauce, to taste
15 oz. crushed tomatoes
1 cup cheese, crumbled or shredded (use blue cheese, cheddar, or whatever you like)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Preheat the broiler. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken or ground turkey. If using chicken, brown for about 5 minutes. If using ground turkey, brown until cooked through and no pink remains.
Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, smoked paprika, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the stock, hot sauce, and tomatoes. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the chili simmers, add the macaroni to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Remove the bay leaf from the chili, then add the cooked macaroni and stir gently to combine.
Transfer the chili mixture to the prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.
Place the baking dish under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and turned golden brown (not dark brown). Sprinkle the scallions over the top and serve.
Serves 6 to 8.