Sponsored by Sargento® Cheese

From family cookouts to holiday celebrations, most people would agree mac and cheese is an appropriate dish for any occasion. It’s a feel-good meal that’s best consumed in good company. From perfectly prepared noodles to the intentional blend of cheeses, macaroni and cheese is a dish that goes down as many people’s favorite, and Sargento® Cheese is here for the good food vibes.

While the exact mix of cheeses is a matter of personal preference, if you’re seeking an amazing brand of cheese, look no further than Sargento® Cheese. This family-owned company is renowned for its commitment to distributing cheese products that taste great and are made from quality ingredients. That means every ooey gooey bite is filled with real, natural cheese. 

Mac and cheese is a staple at tables for many Black American families and holds deep roots and historical significance in Black history. The chef for then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, James Hemmings, was credited with creating a recipe for macaroni pie, a foundation for the beloved dish we know today. Though many mac and cheese variations have surfaced, the coveted dish has become one that is only trusted to be prepared by those with a dedicated history of getting it right. But what makes a really good mac and cheese stand out? The cheese, of course!

All this talk of the perfect mac and cheese dish got us thinking– what if there’s more to this tried-and-true dish? What would happen if we combined this classic comfort food with the flavors of the Caribbean? Don’t worry; we’ve already taste-tested it for you.

Jerk Chicken Mac and Cheese has taken one of the world’s most popular dishes to the next level. From the curated spices of the jerk flavor to the elbow noodles, designed to soak up all that creamy cheese sauce – this unique take on mac and cheese will transform any family dinner experience. If you want to maximize these euphoric blends of flavor and spice, we recommend using the Sargento® Shredded Sharp Cheese and Sargento® Shredded 4 State Cheddar® Cheese which have bold and sharp flavors and give that top-tier cheese pull.

Traditional baked mac and cheese is always a go-to item at any gathering. The next time you want to try something different or flex your culinary skills, try the Jerk Chicken Mac and Cheese and let the good times roll.

Don’t fret, we have you covered with a comprehensive recipe and full list of ingredients sponsored by Sargento® Cheese below:

Jerk Chicken Mac & Cheese

Prep Time: 20 mins   Cook Time: 15 mins   Total Time: 35    Serves: 8

Ingredients:

1 lb  chicken breast

2 tbsp jerk seasoning

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb elbow macaroni

Cheese Sauce

½ c unsalted butter

½ c AP flour

1 ½ c whole milk

2 ½ c half & half

4 c Sargento® Shredded Sharp Natural Cheese

2 c Sargento® Shredded 4 State Cheddar® Cheese

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tbsp Kosher salt

½ tsp  ground black pepper

Chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small mixing bowl, add jerk seasoning, soy sauce and brown sugar until well combined. Add chicken breasts and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. 

In a saute pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat and place chicken breast in the pan presentation side down first. Cook chicken breast for 3 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes, and finish in the oven for 10 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to rest on a cutting board. (Cook time may vary due to the thickness of your chicken breasts.)

Grease a 3 qt baking dish 9×13″ or 12” cast iron and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, close to al dente.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Cook for approximately 1 minute, whisking often. Slowly pour in the Half & Half, then whole milk, while whisking constantly, until smooth. 

Continue to heat over medium heat until thick consistency. Remove from heat and stir in seasonings. Slowly add 4 1/2 cups of the cheeses mixed and stir until completely melted and smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, combine drained pasta with cheese sauce, stirring until completely combined.  Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with the last 1 1/2 cups of cheese mix and bake for 15-20 mins, until the cheese is bubbly and lightly golden brown.  

Remove mac & cheese from the oven. Slice chicken breast and place on top of mac & cheese and garnish with chives.

Recipe created by and courtesy of Chef Rosecleer-Marie