Surprise Baked Mac 'n Cheese

Adapted from iCookbook iPad App

Hands on time: 10 minutes plus time to boil the pasta

Baking time: 20-25 minutes

Serves 4

1 (10oz/284ml) can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded cheese (I used Kraft Tex – cheddar, mozzarella & Monterey Jack with Jalapeno peppers)
1 small roasted chicken breast - boneless & skinless, diced (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup milk
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 cups penne (or corkscrew pasta)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 - 1 cup panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C and butter a large ovenproof glass or ceramic baking dish (1 ½ quart/litre).

2. Boil salted water in a large Dutch oven and cook the penne until it is not quite al dente. Slightly undercooking is the way to go since the dish will continue to cook and absorb sauce during the baking. I hate mushy pasta on my plate. Drain and quickly rinse under cold water to stop the cooking while you prepare the sauce.

3. In a small skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter mixed with the oil (to keep the butter from burning). When melted, toss in the panko crumbs. Toast for a minute or two and set aside.

4. Mix the soup, cheeses, diced chicken, milk & pepper into the prepared baking dish. Stir in the pasta. Top with the breadcrumb mixture.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. It’s ready when the sauce bubbles around the edges and the top is golden.

6. Remove from the oven and let it rest, uncovered on the counter/table for 10 minutes. This will let the dish “set” and still be hot.

Serve with a simple green salad.