I am kind of obsessed with this macaroni and cheese. It's one of those dishes that is just total comfort food. You've got all the ingredients of mac and cheese, with chili powder, salsa, and chicken mixed in. Not the prettiest dish, but it sure is delicious! You could also add some bell pepper or another veggie to make this a little more balanced, although sometimes a big bowl of cheese and pasta is just what one needs. :)
A few notes: This dish will be quicker if you start with cooked chicken. I cooked up a couple of extra chicken breasts when preparing a chicken dish earlier in the week, which worked well. You could also use rotissere chicken. Another important thing to keep in mind is that the sauce will look really gross when you are making it...salsa, spices, scallions, and chicken broth all mixed together just do not look very pretty. Don't worry...by the time you add the cheese, chicken, and pasta, everything will come together and be totally yummy!
Chicken Enchilada Mac and Cheese (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
12 ounces dried macaroni
3 T butter, divided
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 tsp chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup prepared salsa
1/4 cup flour
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1-1/4 cups milk
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt 1 T of the butter in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, chili powder, 1 tsp salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the salsa, and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the scallions are softened.
3. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the remaining 2 T butter. Stir to melt the butter, and the sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring, until a paste forms, about 1 minute.
4. Gradually whisk in the broth, followed by the milk. Work slowly to prevent lumps of flour from forming. I'm not going to lie - the mixture is going to look pretty gross at this point, but have faith -- it will be delicious in the end!
5. Once all the liquid is added, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes.
6. Add the cheese, and whisk until just melted. Then add the macaroni and the cooked chicken, and stir to combine well. Cook for another 3-5 minutes or so, stirring often, until everything is heated through.