Crispy Roquefort Mac & Cheese | Want to know what makes the 4th of July even better? Believe it or not, besides overly-patriotic Toby Keith songs and chest bumping a beer-toting stranger, there is a way. And it comes in the form of elbow macaroni and cheese.
Keeping with the Independence spirit, we decided to once again accept a helping hand from the French (they actually bailed us out during the revolution), and smother our noodles in their Roquefort blue cheese before we tossed it all with good ole’ US of A crispy chicken thighs.
This is a special one. Perfect for the family. Perfect for celebrating America (and your chocolate labrador).
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- Canola Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Elbow Macaroni - 16 ounces, dried
- Chicken Thighs - 4 (6 ounces each), skin-on
- Heavy Cream - ¾ cup, room temperature
- Buttermilk - ½ cup, room temperature
- Creme Fraiche - 4 ounces
- Roquefort Blue Cheese - 3 ounces, crumbled
- Vermouth - ⅓ cup
- Chicken Stock - ½ cup
- Shiitake Mushroom - ¾ cup, thinly sliced
- Shallot - ⅓ cup, finely minced
- Sun-Dried Tomato - 2 tablespoons, finely minced
- Roasted Garlic - 1 tablespoon
- Champagne Vinegar - 2 tablespoons
- Lemon Zest - ¼ teaspoon
- Cilantro - 2 tablespoons, finely minced
- Ground Coriander - ¼ teaspoon
- Cayenne - ¼ teaspoon
- White Pepper - ¼ teaspoon
- Salt - 2 teaspoons
- Sauce Pot
- Saute Pan - large, oven-proof
- Wooden Spoon
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Put the rack in the middle.
- Put your chicken thighs on the counter and pat them as dry as you can with a paper towel. Let them come to room temperature (this can take up to 45 minutes).
- Cut up your mushrooms, shallot and sun-dried tomato.
- Get all the rest of your ingredients together.
- Fill your sauce pot up with 5 inches of water, salt it heavily, and bring it to a boil over high heat.
- Then toss in the pasta, reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook the pasta until it’s perfectly al dente - about 6 minutes.
- Strain the pasta and add it back to the same sauce pot along with 1 tablespoon of the butter and oil. Stir it well and keep the pot in a warm place.
- While the pasta is cooking, salt the skin side of the chicken thighs with ½ teaspoon of the salt.
- Add the last tablespoon of butter to the saute pan and let it get hot over medium-high heat - about 3 minutes.
- When the oil is hot, lay in the thighs skin-side down, give the pan a quick shake so they don’t stick, and sear the chicken for 11 minutes (shake and rotate the pan often to avoid hot spots).
- Then flip the chicken and sear on the flesh side for 2 minutes.
- Now go ahead and flip them back to their skin side and toss the whole pan in the oven for 13 minutes.
- Open the oven, flip the back over, and roast for another 4 minutes for a total of 30.
- Then remove the chicken from the pan to a cooling rack, loosely cover them, and let them rest for 10 minutes before you slice them.
- While the chicken is resting, put the same saute pan back over medium-high heat (don’t pour off any of the fat).
- Now toss in the shiitake, shallot and a small pinch of the salt, give it a stir, and saute until softened - about 4 minutes.
- Then deglaze with the vermouth and vinegar, and scrape up any fond on the bottom of the pan. Simmer the sauce rapidly and reduce by half - about 2 more minutes.
- Now add the chicken stock, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, lemon zest, spices, pepper and the rest of the salt. Stir and reduce by half again - about 4 minutes.
- Then add the buttermilk and cream, bring it all back to a simmer, and reduce for a few more minutes until it just starts to thicken up.
- Take the pan off the heat (that’s important), then stir in the creme fraiche, roquefort and cilantro until it’s well incorporated. Season to taste.
- Go back to your chicken thighs, cut out the bone, and cut the meat into a large dice.
- Then add the cooked macaroni along with the chicken pieces back to the sauce to coat. Set the pan in a warm place while you plate.
- Get your favorite warmed serving bowls ready. Spoon in a big portion of the pasta. Make sure to get a few chicken pieces in there with the crispy skin!
- Garnish with any extra cilantro and roquefort. This is freakin’ awesome. Enjoy America!
* Make sure your chicken thighs get up to an internal temp of 165. Use an instant-read thermometer.
* Two things on all the dairy in this recipe - the buttermilk and cream need to be at room temp (if not warm) and take the pan off the heat before you add the creme fraiche so nothing curdles on you.
* Roquefort is SO famous in France - it's like their Santa Clause. Did you know there are stories about it dating back to 70 A.D.? Read all about it. Crazy.
If you’ve read this far, then you need to check out Braised Beef Cheek Carbonara and Sriracha Lobster Mac & Cheese.
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