We all have those days when we want comfort food – something quick, scrumptious and with lots of melted cheese. This chicken & cheese casserole is one of those recipes. Not only is it simple to make but it lends itself to endless variations all limited only by the contents of your fridge.
Start with boiled pasta. Elbow macaroni is the one I choose because of its small shape, but other sizes can be substituted.
Decide on your protein layer. I use chicken mince/qeema but beef mince or boneless chicken can also be substituted. This is also a casserole that can help you use up those leftovers in the fridge. Use the mince from the aalo qeema you made on Monday, wash the leftover chicken from the aalo chicken you made on Tuesday and just shred it up and use.
Make a white sauce. Don’t skip out on the chicken cube – it just adds that extra depth of flavor for that slightly Desi kick. Add some melted cheese in it if you are feeling particularly decadent. Keep aside, and if it gets thick just add some extra milk when heating it up.
Ketchup & Chili Garlic for extra flavor. Yes, you could make home-made fresh tomato sauce or aromatic marinara sauce (recipe cooking soon)but this is a recipe that calls for simplicity so bottled sauces are what I use this time.
Cheese – the magical element that just brings everything together. A little bit of cheese between the layers, and lots of melted cheese on top. Cook it in the oven, and just put it for 5 minutes under the broiler to give it that lovely brown caramelized top.
Enjoy the Cheesy Chicken Casserole Bake. Get up at midnight to have leftovers if any.
- 400 grams elbow macaroni
- For the Chicken Mince
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 300 grams chicken mince
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- 2-3 black peppercorns (kali mirch)
- ½ inch cinnamon stick
- 2 whole cloves
- ½ teaspoon – 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon – 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- For the White Sauce
- 3 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 1½ cups – 2 cups milk
- 1 Knorr chicken cube
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup chili garlic sauce
- 200 grams mozzarella cheese; alternatively 100 grams cheddar cheese & 100 grams mozzarella cheese can be used
- 2 tablespoon butter (for spreading on bottom & side of baking pan)
- 1 teaspoon herbs
- ½ - 1 teaspoon white pepper
- Boil noodles as per packet directions and set aside.
- To prepare the chicken mince:
- Heat oil. Add black peppercorns, cinnamon stick & cloves. Sauté for 30 seconds and then add minced garlic & garlic paste. Cook for 30 – 45 seconds to remove the raw taste.
- Add chicken mince, salt & red chili pepper and cook with a wooden spoon on medium to high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn heat to low, cover the mince and let it cook for about 20 – 30 minutes till it is cooked through. Keep aside.
- To prepare the white sauce:
- Melt butter. Add flour and stir for at least 1-2 minutes to cook out the raw taste of the flour. Pour in about 1 cup of milk, and stir with a whisk to make sure there are no lumps in the white sauce.
- Keep heating the white sauce on medium heat till you can see small bubbles on the side after which it should start thickening. Use a whisk to mix the white sauce properly. Add chicken cube & rest of spices. Taste and adjust seasonings if required. Keep aside.
- Assembling the Casserole
- Pre-heat oven to 180 Centigrade.
- Take a 9 x 13 or similar size baking pan. A glass Pyrex dish is best as it lets you see the layers. Spread butter across the bottom and sides of the dish. Start by adding about half of the elbow macaroni on the bottom. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of white pepper & Italian herbs. Top with half of the white sauce, ketchup & chili garlic sauce. The next step is adding all of the mincemeat. Top with the rest of the elbow macaroni, white sauce, ketchup and chili garlic sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of white pepper & Italian herbs again. Add shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the casserole.
- Keep casserole in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes till the cheese is melted and the casserole is warmed through. Turn the broiler on for the last 5 minutes to give a lovely caramelized cheesy top.