It’s been a wild week! Before last Monday, our television wasn’t even hooked up basic cable. On the eve of the election, my husband snaked chords across our living room floor to connect us to CNN and other news channels – the BBC, Antwerp ATV, and others. Unlike U.S. sports, which we often miss in the wee hours of the morning, the U.S. news stations were covering the election 24-hours a day.
“Vinny,” I said on Thursday morning as I sipped my coffee and checked the clock, “They look great. . . how is that even possible?” My eyes darted between the television and our clock, and I started to calculate the time difference, but Chris Cuomo answered my question.
“Why are we so perky at 4:30 a.m.? Well. . . look at these numbers,” and he pointed to the numbers in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia. Joe Biden had taken the lead in all those states. The momentum had shifted and so had my energy level. After so many days glued to American TV and running miles to tame my anxiety, it was time for some good ol’ American comfort food.
On Friday I started my menu planning. . . the weekend before the election and Belgium’s semi-lock down I had (finally) found the Buffalo Sauce after months of searching. The store shelves of Albert Heijn in Lier boasted these little beauties for around three euros a piece. I knew they’d come in handy during the semi-lock down and combined with the election anxiety, it was just what we needed.
8 ounces (230 grams) dry macaroni noodles
3 Tablespoons (42 grams) of butter
3 Tablespoons (42 grams) of flour
2 cups (475ml) of milk, warmed
A couple shakes of salt and pepper
A couple shakes of garlic powder and onion powder
4 ounces (115 grams) cream cheese
1½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (In Europe I chopped up a log of 200 grams of mozzarella cheese)
1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese (In Europe I used 115g of oud gouda shredded cheese)
⅓ cup (80 g) sour cream (or crème freche’ works too)
½ cup buffalo hot sauce (In Europe I used one bottle of 148 ml Frank’s Red Hot Wings Buffalo Sauce, pictured above)
1 ½ cups shredded chicken (you can boil a couple of chicken breasts for 20 minutes and then shred, or I used a small rotisserie chicken I bought at the Jumbo)
For Panko Topping:
2 Tablespoons (30 grams) butter
1 Tablespoon (10 ml) olive oil
1 cup (60 grams) panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350F (180C) and grease a 9 by 13-inch (20 by 28-centimeter) glass pan.
Cook macaroni al dente according to package instructions.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once it has melted, add flour and stir until smooth.
Slowly add milk, then add spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder). Stir well and bring to a boil.
Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat, bring to a simmer, and stir until it is thickened.
Reduce heat to low. Add cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. Stir until cheeses are melted and the mixture is smooth.
Add Buffalo hot sauce and stir.
Add shredded chicken and cooked, drained pasta noodles. Stir until well mixed and pour into prepared baking dish.
Combine butter and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until melted.
Add panko breadcrumbs and stir well until the butter and oil has been mostly absorbed.
Continue to stir until panko is lightly toasted and turns a lovely, toasted color
Puttin’ it together
Sprinkle over prepared buffalo chicken mac and cheese.
Transfer to oven and bake on 350F (180C) for 15 minutes.
To serve: this dish is sufficient all on its own. But if you’re feeling a bit guilty about the carbs, add a salad of rucola & grape tomatoes spritzed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with ground salt and pepper for a simple, but sophisticated salad. Perfect, happy comfort food, great for a celebration like 4th of July or any other traditional (or non-traditional) holiday.