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Grilled Chicken-and-Bacon Mac n Cheese

February 2011
Grilled Chicken-and-Bacon Mac n Cheese

by 21 people

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Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 6 slices good-quality smoky bacon, such as applewood-smoked
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound whole wheat short-cut pasta
  • 2 pieces skinless, boneless chicken breast, lightly pounded
  • EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil), for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, quartered lengthwise and very thinly sliced
  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup cloudy apple cider or chicken stock
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley or celery greens, for garnish
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees . Arrange the bacon on a slotted broiler pan or on a rack placed over a baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Chop and reserve. Switch on the broiler and position the rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook 1 minute less than the instructions indicate, or until just shy of al dente. Drain and return to the pot.
  3. While the pasta is working, heat a grill pan or cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat. Drizzle the chicken with EVOO to coat lightly, then season evenly with the paprika, salt and pepper. Grill the chicken for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Transfer to a cutting board and halve the pieces lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
  4. While the chicken cooks, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until light golden and very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in the cider (or stock), then the milk. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the thyme and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the cheeses until melted.
  5. Add the chicken, bacon and sauce to the pasta and transfer to a casserole. Broil until bubbling and browned, about 5 minutes. Garnish with the parsley (or celery greens).