The other day when it was raining and we were all camped out on the couch I felt like making something tasty and comforting for lunch. We've had plenty of soup recently so I felt like something a little different. After a search of the cupboards and fridge I found the end of a smoked chicken fillet I needed to use, so I made this recipe up and it was a real yummy dish! Surely to be repeated again with leftover smoked chicken :) This is a great frugal recipe to use up little bits of leftovers. I kind of threw everything together so no real measurements but I will add some here for you....
Smoked Chicken, Cranberry and Pumpkin Seed 'Mac&Cheese'
About 30-40gms Butter
Leftover Smoked Chicken - chopped into bite size pieces
A good handful of dried Cranberries
2 Tbsp of Pumpkin Seeds (You could get creative here and use any seeds/nuts you might have on hand)
2-3 Tbsp of Plain Flour
1 1/2 - 2 Cups Milk (I use low fat or light blue as we call it in NZ)
A good handful of Grated Cheese (or if you are feeling really indulgent and have some on hand Brie or Camembert would be really yummy in place of 'normal' cheese)
Enough dried Pasta to feed 4 (I think I used around 3/4 cup of dried Macaroni, you could use any shape you have on hand)
Firstly set your water to boil for the pasta with a little salt. When this is boiling add the pasta give it a little stir after a minute or two to break it up and stop it sticking and boil until it is at your liking. I like it my pasta quite soft so I boil it for around 9 mins.
On a low heat In a pan melt the butter and add the Smoked Chicken, Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds (or your alternative). Toss through the butter and cook a few mins.
Sprinke over the flour and mix everything together with a wooden spoon.
Keeping it on low heat, next in little bits at a time, add the milk and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Adding the milk a little at a time allows you to stir it into the mix and as it comes together it shouldn't be lumpy. Don't panic if you get lumps in the beginning, once you have added all your milk by the end as long as you have continually stirred it and added only a little milk at a time they will disappear.
Let this simmer down for a minute or two and then stir through the grated cheese and a little salt and cracked pepper to taste. The sauce will start to thicken from here so keep it on the heat until it has started to thicken and 'grab' as I call it.
Toss through your pasta, serve and enjoy :)
You could choose to put this into an oven dish top it with cheese and cracked pepper and bake it in the oven at 180degC until golden brown, served with a side salad this is a yummy dinner option.
Have fun with this recipe, you could really play around with the ingredients that you add to the base of the 'Mac&Cheese'. Another one to try could be finely dice an onion and cook it down with some bacon, mushrooms and then add some frozen sweetcorn with the cheese. Whatever you have on hand at the time, this is a good recipe to use up those last little bits. You can also if you have nothing to add or feel like adding to it and want plain Macaroni and Cheese, just follow the directions and omit adding anything to the butter. I know some people add a little mustard to the mix, but I myself don't do this.
I'd love to hear what combinations you may come up with :)