I know it’s football season when people start asking for the recipe for my “Ultimate Tailgating Mac and Cheese,” a hybrid of smooth Velveeta-based baked macaroni and cheese, and the taste sensations of Buffalo style chicken wings.
It’s an easily tailored recipe. Add more Frank’s Red Hot, or fiercer habaneno stuff, if you like it spicy. Up the cheese quotient with aged provolone or feta for a more pungent dairy flavor.
Ultimate Tailgating Mac and Cheese
3 pounds elbow macaroni, cooked al dente
2 pound loaf Velveeta
Meat from 1 chicken, in bite-sized pieces
4 cups chopped onion
8 ounces blue cheese
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
2 cups milk
½ cup cayenne pepper hot sauce, like Frank’s
1 pound sharp cheddar, shredded
2 cups celery, sliced thin
1 cup plain yogurt
• Cook macaroni al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Skin chicken and strip meat, tearing it into bite-sized chunks.
• In large pot, melt butter. When foaming stops, add onions. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until translucent and browning, 10 to 15 minutes. Do not allow to burn.
• Add hot sauce, stirring until sauce evaporates into onions, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.
• Add milk, yogurt and Velveeta torn in chunks. Stir steadily as Velveeta melts into liquid. (Do not allow to boil, or it will burn on the bottom of the pot.)
• Set oven to 500 degrees. Spread cooked macaroni in standard half-sheet sized foil catering pan. Scatter celery and chicken over the macaroni, and crush blue cheese to spread across the mixture. Add cheese sauce and stir to combine everything evenly. Smooth out the mixture.
• Top with shredded cheddar and place pan in preheated oven. Bake until brown and bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes. Can be covered with heavy foil and kept warm in a cooler, stuffed with crumpled newspaper as insulation, for up to four hours.