I just pulled (what I’m pretty sure is) my first all-nighter since college to get this post to you today, and I’ve gotta say, I’m pumped about it. The recipe required a lot of tweaking and testing throughout the week, as well as a lot of blood, sweat, and tears as I’ve tried to figure out why my computer and camera are not cooperating with me lately. In the process, I have sustained myself near-exclusively with massive amounts of buffalo chicken and somewhere in the ballpark of 48 tons of coffee. This is my life now.
I don’t think I can put into words how much I’m looking forward to escaping the wrath of my laptop this weekend to enjoy the Super Bowl… and by that of course I mean the plethora of Super Bowl snacks that I will be inhaling… and by that of course I mean even more buffalo chicken. Is it strange and/or sad that I have spent the last 8 or more days eating buffalo chicken for at least one meal a day and I’m looking forward to eating it again? You might say so. Or you might consider these Baked Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese Bites, and the fact that I’ll be cooking up another batch this Sunday to share with my friends, and realize that it is a perfectly valid and understandable desire. They’re Baked Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese Bites. How could I even try to fight that?
These are very much like those fried mac n’ cheese balls you can get as an appetizer at pretty much all of the chain restaurants now, except they’re a thousand times better. Why are they better, you ask? Let me count the ways:
- the cheese sauce is spiked with buffalo sauce
- there’s oodles of shredded chicken breast in there
- they’re squares, which means they’re stackable, which means you could put a Baked Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese Bite in between two other Baked Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese Bites and get a serious Baked Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese Bite Sandwich, if you felt so inclined
- they’re baked, which means no messing with hot oil, and they’re much easier to make ahead and reheat
- you also can feel slightly less guilty about eating a dozen of ’em because at least they’re not deep-fried.
Those all sound like good excuses to make an extra batch to hoard to myself, now that I think about it.
To see exactly how I make them, check out the video below:
- 8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
- 5 large eggs
- ⅓ - ½ cup Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce (or buffalo sauce of choice)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast (rotisserie or poached and pulled)
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- Ranch dressing, to top
- Scallion sliced, to top
- In a large bowl, combine the cheeses and toss with cornstarch until evenly distributed. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, beat together the evaporated milk, 2 of the eggs, and the buffalo sauce, until well-combined. Set aside.
- Heat a large, high-walled pan or pot over medium-low heat. Melt the butter in the pan and reduce to low heat. Add in the chicken, macaroni, reserved cheese mixture, and the reserved evaporated milk mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until the cheese melts and the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Make sure to keep the heat as low as possible, or the eggs will scramble in the cheese sauce.
- Line a 9 x 13" baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil. spray lightly with nonstick spray and scoop the buffalo chicken macaroni into the dish. Smooth out the buffalo mac until even. Refrigerate until solidified, at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.
- Place the flour in a small bowl, beat the remaining 3 eggs in another bowl, and pour the panko breadcrumbs into a third bowl.
- Remove the buffalo chicken macaroni from the refrigerator and carefully flip it over onto a cutting board. Peel away the parchment paper or foil, and then cut the mac into squares.
- Dip each square into the flour, then the beaten egg, then the panko, pressing well to coat. Line the squares on the prepared baking sheet. You may have to use more than one baking sheet., don't crowd them too much.
- Spray the macaroni squares liberally with nonstick spray, and bake until light golden and warm, about 25 minutes, turning once halfway through. Let the bites sit for a few minutes after they come out of the oven before plating. This will help them firm up as they cool just slightly.
- Serve the bites with a drizzle of ranch and sliced scallion.
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