Comfort food – it’s called that for a reason. Macaroni and cheese is a childhood staple that, when altered correctly, can satisfy all those blue-boxed memories with some grownup flair: adding chicken wings makes the meal stay kid friendly while being a little more well-rounded for us kids-at-heart. You won’t even have to hide the box when company comes over – and they will once they smell what’s cookin’.
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Herbed Parmesan Chicken Wings!
Herb Parmesan Chicken Wings
1 lb. chicken wings
1 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
2 c elbow pasta (or whatever type you want!)
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. powdered mustard (can omit if desired)
1 c. sour cream
3 c. milk
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. paprika
12 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a mexican mix so this is flexible)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lay the chicken wings out in one layer on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Once the oven is preheated, bake them for 30 minutes, turn, bake another 30 and then broil to crisp the skin.
For the macaroni and cheese, keep the oven at 350. Boil a large pot of salted water. Toss in the macaroni and cook until al dente (that means just a little bite left – it will continue to cook in the oven and we don’t want mushy mac). While that’s cooking, we’re gonna make a roux! A roux is a simple way to thicken a sauce without having chunks of flour or that raw flour taste in the finished product. Here’s what you do: heat the 3 Tbsp. of butter on low/med in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and mustard and allow to cook/brown for about 5 minutes. Watch the mixture carefully and whisk constantly – a burned roux ruins a dish.
Once the roux is nicely browned, slowly whisk in the milk, followed by the sour cream, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. of the paprika. Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, then remove the bay leaf.
Take your egg and whisk it up in a heat-safe bowl. Pour about 1 c. of the saucepan contents into a measuring cup. We’re going to temper the egg – this adds thickness to the dish without cooking the egg. To do that, SLOWLY pour the hot liquid into the bowl with the whisked egg, whisking constantly. You want to slowly heat the egg so that it doesn’t cook but instead merges with the mixture to become a thickener. DON’T pour the egg into the sauce pan and try to temper it that way – even superman couldn’t whisk fast enough to make that work. Once you’ve tempered the egg, pour it into the saucepan with the rest of the mixture. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Add a little salt and pepper. Pour all of that into a 2 quart baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle with the rest of the paprika – now, you could certainly top your macaroni with bread crumbs – I’m just not a huge fan, so I didn’t. The world is your oyster.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cheese is nice and golden on top.
Take those chicken wings and toss them in the Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper.
Serve alongside the mac and cheese with a glass of iced tea and you’ve got yourself a delicious home-cooked meal!