Mac and cheese is the most go-to comfort food across many cultures. Mac and cheese is a very versatile dish. There are a hundred variations to the mac and cheese dish. Moreover, They are economical and easy to prepare.
One-pot meals are convenient. I have decided to jazz up my mac and cheese with 2 ingredients that you don’t see often see used in mac and cheese dishes.
Jerk Mac and Cheese Topped with Cotija Cheese.
The Walkerswood Jamaican Jerk Seasoning adds a lot of spice and heat to the dish. The recipe calls for the hot and spicy version, but a milder version of the jerk seasoning is also available for purchase in the ethnic aisle of your local grocery store.
Jerk seasoning takes you back to the islands where jerk chicken is a very popular menu option in Jamaica. Mark Wiens in his Youtube video: Insane Jamaican Jerk BBQ showcases the authentic style of Jamaican jerk chicken.
The second ingredient is Cotija cheese. In addition, they are used mainly in Mexican cuisines. If you visit a street fair you will most often find vendors selling corn that is heavily dusted with cotija cheese.
The Cojita cheese is sold in block form, but can also be purchased in a pre-grated form which is similar to the pre-grated parmesan cheese you find in your supermarket.
The color of cotija cheese is white and has a fluffy snow-like texture. Even though the cheese does not melt, I used it as a topping on the mac and cheese because of the distinct funky flavor it brings to the dish.
This Mexican-Jamaican infusion mac and cheese is unique in both flavor and texture.
Jerk Mac and Cheese: A Flavor Packed One Pot Chicken Meal.
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Easy Jerk Mac and Cheese: A Flavor Packed One-Pot Chicken Meal.
- 13 x 9 inches Pyrex Baking Dish
- 2 Mixing Bowls
- 2 Wide Sauce Pans
- Cutting Board
- Zip Lock Bag
Roux Cheese Sauce and Macaroni
- 1 box Elbo Macaroni 16 oz
- 16 oz Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
- 3 cups Whole Milk
- ⅓ cup All-purpose Flour
- 1 medium Onion, Diced
- ½ cup Olive Canola Oil Blend
- 2 lbs Chicken Breast, Cubed
- 2 tsp Salt
- 3 tbsp Walkerswood Jamaican Jerk Seasining
- 2 tsp Sazon Seasoning
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
Mac & Cheese Topping
- 2 cups Spicy Honey Cheetos, crumbled
- ½ cup Cotija Cheese
- ½ cup Extra Sharp Chedar Cheese
- 1 medium Zip Lock Bag
Seasoning and Cooking Chicken Breast
- Cut pieces of chicken breast into approximately 1-inch cubes and add to the mixing bowl
- Season Chicken Breast pieces with jerk seasoning, salt, pepper, and sazon. Mix well and store in the refrigerator for 1 hr. I marinated mine for 2 days.
- Remove seasoned chicken breast from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 15 - 20 minutes.
- In the wide saucepan pot, add cooking oil and heat for 3 minutes. Carefully add the chicken breast pieces to hot oil.
- Allow chicken to brown on each side for 2-3 minutes. Remove cooked chicken pieces and set aside in the bowl.
- Turn on oven to 375 °F.
Making Roux Sauce
- Use cutting board and knife to dice onion.
- In the same pot with the remaining oil and bits and pieces from the chicken, add the diced onions and allow to sweat for 2 minutes while stirring and scraping the bits from the pan.
- Add flour to cooked onion and oil mixture. Stir with the spoon and cook for 2 minutes.
- To the roux mixture, slowly pour the milk onto roux mixture while constantly mixing with the whisk until the sauce is smooth and becomes thickened. Allow cooking for 5 minutes.
- To the roux mixture, add the shredded sharp cheddar cheese and mix with the spoon until melted.
- Add the cooked chicken pieces to the cheese sauce and mix them together. Cook for another 2 minutes and turn off flame.
- Bring to boil, 1 quart of water in a medium-size pot. Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes or until aldente or soft to touch.
- Strain cooked macaroni in the colander. Add the macaroni into the cheese sauce and use the spoon to mix together.
- Grease Pirex dish with unsalted butter and pour macaroni mixture into dish.
- In the zip lock bag add the 2 cups of cheetos.
- Use hands or rolling pin to crumble the Cheetos.
- Evenly sprinkle the crumbled Cheetos onto the top of the mac and cheese.
- Do the same for the Cotija.
- Lastly, add the cheese evenly on the top.
- Place in oven and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Allow mac and cheese to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Homemade Jerk Chicken Mac and Cheese
Flavor Packed Jerk Chicken Mac & Cheese.