It’s Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I took the evening off to actually have dinner with my family instead of delivering it to other families. I planned on making salads with grilled chicken, but then I saw the CDC warning about people getting sick from romaine lettuce, so that bag of salad went in the trash and I scoured my pantry for another dinner option that didn’t involve grocery shopping. Damn salad! Bacon doesn’t do that!
Anyway, I noticed that I had everything needed to make homemade macaroni and cheese except macaroni. However, I did have rigatoni, and pasta is pasta, so a plan was born. I decided to make rigatoni and cheese with BBQ grilled chicken strips. When I told my husband, he said “Oh, so you’re just going to make pasta and mix it with cheese?” I laughed, face palmed a bit, and said “Um, no, there’s a bit more to it than that.” In his defense, he’s not much of a cook except for breakfast food (years of Waffle House experience). He’s really good at breakfast food though.
I’ve written before about how I’m lactose intolerant and I’ve had to adjust all my recipes using lactose-free substitutes, and this is no exception. I used this recipe but substituted lactose-free milk and lactose-free cheese. It’s really simple. Make pasta like usual and then put a saucepan over medium heat. Start out melting butter and add a couple tablespoons of flour to create a roux. Mix in the milk slowly and then the cheese, then reduce it until it thickens. Mix it all together in a baking dish and top it with toasted breadcrumbs and paprika, then pop it in a 350 degree oven for a half hour.
I feel that I should clarify something here; this recipe is friendly for lactose intolerant folks like myself but not for people who are allergic to dairy. I’ve been asked several times “What’s the difference?” I usually answer “One can actually kill you, while the other just makes you temporarily wish you were dead.” For example, I use real butter and it doesn’t bother me because butter is a different kind of dairy; it’s high in fat, which makes it naturally very low in lactose and it’s never given me a major problem. So sorry my dairy allergic readers; this is still dangerous for you. But for lactose intolerant people like myself, this is a total win!
So there you have it; homemade macaroni (er, rigatoni) with cheese. And no, it’s not just pasta mixed with cheese. I believe that’s known as “macaroni and fuck it.” I don’t do that in my kitchen.
Yes, I made BBQ grilled chicken strips too but that’s less impressive because the chicken strips were precooked and frozen; all I did was heat them up and add BBQ sauce and that barely counts as cooking. Still delicious though!