Let me start by saying I was not a big cheese fan until I met my husband. His four major food groups in no particular order are meat, ranch dressing, cheese, and more cheese. And it doesn’t matter what kind. He’s infamous at Colorado State University for hustling a giant 35 lb. cheese wheel from the staff at the Allison Hall cafeteria, which lasted him and his roommates all of 3 weeks. They even removed the lower two shelves from their fridge for the behemoth cheddar block to reside. He was also the first person to make me a blue-cheese sauce (for steaks of course) while we were dating. And although I already loved him, this definitely was an added bonus.
All our kids, especially our girls, love cheese just as much as Jake if not a little more.
But it was a dish at a fancy local restaurant, Jay’s Bistro, which inspired this recipe. At my sister’s rehearsal dinner a few years ago, we realized there wasn’t a whole lot of kid friendly selections, so we asked for the lobster mac and cheese, hold the lobster, for our little ones. When it came out, my husband tried it to make sure it wasn’t too hot. He instantly urged me to taste it. We ordered more and ended up eating it all. The kids can have the filet with port demi-glace – we get the mac n’ cheese. I thought I would try something similar. To add some protein, I substituted chicken for the lobster because it’s such an easy thing to add to any dish. This turned out rich and creamy, and I ended up giving half of it to one of my pregnant friends who is due any day now. She later text-ed me that her husband ate most of it before dinner, and her two-year-old finished what was left that night. So just like my husband, here’s a cheesy keeper.
Rich and creamy pasta bake made with a four cheese sauce, chicken and noodles. Delicious dish, easy to prepare and even better to share.
- 1lb of Fusilli Bucati Corti pasta or any noodle would really work, even fettuccine, boiled to al dente and drained
- 9 tablespoons butter
- 4 ½ tablespoons flour
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
- ½ cup half-and-half
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons grated Gouda cheese
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- 6 ounces of mascarpone cheese
- 10 ounces of cooked chicken breast, sliced or cubed, I like grilled chicken
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping
Heat oven to 350. Spray baking dish, square 9x9 or oval dish, with cooking spray. Cook pasta as directed and drain.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Gradually stir in broth. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat to low. Stir in mascarpone, white cheddar cheese, Gouda, parmesan and half-and-half. Allow all cheese to melt and meld together while continuously stirring. Once completely mixed together and cheese is melted, stir in chicken.
Add pasta to chicken mixture; toss gently to mix well. Spoon into baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered about 15-25 minutes or until hot in the center.
Kids review: Sadly, when I made this all my kids were down with some horrible virus that we picked up while cruisin’ in the Bahamas. There were some leftovers that my daughter Jojo, the cheese addict, was able to try, and she loved it. My husband would always substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the white chicken meat, but he and I inhaled it for dinner, and lunch and dinner the next day it was so good.