I hope that this is the first of many Mac-n-Cheese recipes on this blog. I have certainly made my share over the years. I am always looking for new unique Mac-n-Cheese recipes though – ones that are not just noodles and cheddar cheese. I remember about a year ago I made a recipe for 4 kids that had 4 different types of cheese and bacon – and one of the kids (not one of mine) told me that it was the best Mac-n-Cheese he had ever had. Now, I guess I can’t take that as a complete compliment, since my competition was probably just Annie’s – but still, it felt good.
I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – and because I am not a fan of ranch dressing, it didn’t hit me as something I really longed to make. My older daughter though likes to read over my shoulder – and there was another recipe right next to it that I was enthralled in…so she asked me when I was going to make the Mac-n-Cheese. I had her look at the ingredients – and even though she is also not a huge ranch dressing fan, she wanted to try it. I really think the bacon was clouding her judgement. I can’t say this was my favorite recipe – but if you are looking for a different kind of Mac-n-Cheese – and you DO love ranch dressing – this is the ideal recipe for you.
- 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
- 1 slice applewood-smoked bacon
- 8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
- 1/3 cup condensed 45% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded six-cheese Italian blend (such as Sargento)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded colby-Jack cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Finely chop bacon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes or until done.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; sprinkle flour evenly into pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk; gradually add milk mixture to saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until sauce cools to 155°. Add Italian cheese blend, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, and salt, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in pasta and chicken.
Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon and colby-Jack cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here: Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese