I've been working to perfect a creamy, spicy mac and cheese for years. After adding smoky bacon, chicken, jalapenos and spicy cheese, this is the ultimate! I use rotisserie chicken and precooked bacon when I'm pressed for time. —Sarah Gilbert, Aloha, Oregon
Spicy Chicken and Bacon Mac Recipe photo by Taste of Home
1-1/2 cups uncooked cavatappi pasta or elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup crushed kettle-cooked potato chips or panko bread crumbs
Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente; drain. Preheat broiler.
In a 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until blended; cook and stir until lightly browned, 1-2 minutes (do not burn). Gradually whisk in cream, milk, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; cook and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted. Add pasta, chicken, bacon and jalapeno; cook and stir until heated through. Sprinkle chips over top.
Broil 3-4 inches from heat until chips are browned, about 30 seconds.
Test Kitchen tips
If your family likes spicy foods, add more Cajun seasoning or jalapeno pepper.
Cavatappi is a tube-shaped pasta in the shape of a corkscrew.