I love Mac And Cheese. I particularly liked this recipe since it was so different than my usual mac n’ cheese dinners. The meatballs were really easy to make, too. The addition of fennel gives them a sausage like flavor.
The only thing that would make this dish even better would be eating it in Florence. With Julian Sands, perhaps.
Florentine Mac and Cheese With Roasted Chicken Meatballs
1 pound cavatappi pasta
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
1 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
3/4 cup bread crumbs, plus more, if needed*
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 boxes, 10 ounces each, chopped frozen spinach
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Strain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
3. While pasta is cooking, in a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, salt and pepper, rosemary, fennel seeds, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, egg and bread crumbs. *If the mixture seems too wet, add some additional bread crumbs and mix together.
4, Form chicken mixture into large round balls, about 3 to 4-inches. Coat balls in some extra-virgin olive oil and lightly grease a foil lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Arrange balls on the baking sheet and roast 17 to 18 minutes until juices run clear.
5. Put spinach in a large bowl and defrost in microwave, 8 to 10 minutes, on ‘defrost’ setting.
6. While the meatballs roast, in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour. Cook 1 minute then whisk in stock and milk. Season with salt and pepper and cook until thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 cup grated Parmigiano and reduce heat to lowest setting.
7. Wring spinach dry in clean kitchen towel and add it to the sauce. Add the reserved 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
8. Toss pasta with the spinach sauce and adjust seasonings.
9. Serve pasta with 2 meatballs per person.
Serves 6 to 8
Adapted from Amber’s Delectable Delights
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