Simple Eats – Baked Macaroni with Cheese and Fried Chicken
A very no-frills meal to prepare at home when I run out of ideas to cook. The preparation + cooking time is about 30 min!
Ingredients are very simple too!
(1) Pasta elbows aka “macaroni” in this part of the world we live in. The amount can be varied according to the size of the baking dish, one’s dietary needs and most importantly, one’s appetite!
(2) Half a yellow onion, diced, chopped, juilienned… in short whatever way you like it
(3) A tablespoon of olive oil, no need extra virgin!
(4) A clove of garlic, chopped finely. If you like more, simply add more!
(4) A pot with enough hot water to cover the macaroni
(5) A small heap of chopped vegetables. I used the carrot-corn-green peas mix which I always have in my fridge. Comes in handy for fried rice too! Broccoli, sugar snaps, french beans would be nice too!
(6) About 5 tablespoons of milk.
(7) Shredded fried chicken. I used CP’s fried chicken, but it can jolly well be leftovers from last night’s KFC dinner. The best thing is, it doesn’t even have to be fried chicken! Roast chicken, ham, Cantonese-styled Crispy Roasted Pork Belly (港式烧肉) all work very well! I especially love using roasted pork belly.
(8) Salt and pepper to taste
(9) Assortment of cheeses. I like cheddar and mozzarella but basically quite a number of cheeses can be used.
(10) (optional) A dash of dried parsley, coriander or any herby mix you fancy.
(1) Add macaroni into pot of boiling water and cook for about 10 mins. Test one of them when the cooking time is up and it should be “al dente”
(2) While the macaroni is cooking, use the time to dice and slice up all the onions, garlic. This is also the time to start your oven at 200 degrees celcius
(3) Heat up a saucepan or shallow pot, and add a tablespoon of olive oil.
(4) Sauté the onion until soft then followed by garlic. Do not add them together as garlic browns very easily leaving a bitter aftertaste.
(5) Add the mixed vegetables into the onions. If other vegetables are used, they have to be blanched in hot water first. The pot of hot water can be used to cook the vegetables slightly prior to using it for macaroni.
(6) Add the cooked macaroni straight from the pot, drained
(7) Add milk, salt and pepper to taste. Go easy on the salt as cheese tend to be salty. Dried parsley can also be added at this moment.
(8) Give the ingredients a good stir and transfer into the baking dish/casserole etc.
(9) Line up the bits of fried chicken/ham/roast chicken/salami etc according to your liking and cover the macaroni generously with shredded cheese.
(10) Place the dish in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 10 min.
(11) Take a peek into the oven and the cheese topping should be bubbly.
(12) Turn the oven from “bake” to “grill” mode and continue for another 15-20 seconds or so, watching over the cheese layer very carefully. It should start to bubble even more profusely and the top would start to brown. Turn off the oven immediately when this happens and remove the baking dish. CAUTION: The dish is extremely hot and oven gloves are a must!
(13) Serve while hot and if you like, a sprinkling of grated parmesan and tabasco!