January 28, 2009

simple baked mac

I still remember the restaurant downstairs from the office in Manila where I used to work. It served the best baked macaroni with sliced sausages and cheesy white sauce on top. It was the most popular item in their menu that they were always hot straight from the oven at all times. The melted cheese didn't have a chance to cool down before the hungry patrons came by for them. It had very simple ingredients but what made it good was the overflowing cheese bubbling on top. For this simple baked macaroni version, I made the creamy sauce by starting off with some chopped bacon and pan-frying them until crispy. Drain and set aside the bacon on some papertowels leaving about 2 tbsps. of oil in the pan. Add about 1 tbsp. of butter for flavor and sautee minced garlic and chopped onions until cooked. Add some chicken strips and stir fry in the oil for a few minutes until cooked. At this point, about 2 tbsps. of flour may be added and cooked over low heat. The flour helps to thicken the sauce. Sprinkle with basil and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Add a little chicken broth and simmer. Chopped tomatoes are optional. Slowly pour in some heavy cream or half & half. Additional chicken broth may be used if sauce is too thick. Fold in cooked and drained macaroni ( I like to use rigatoni or penne ) until well coated with the sauce. This process may be done off the heat. Sprinkle parmesan cheese or other grated Italian cheese and reserved bacon bits on top. Serve hot with some garlic bread.

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