The Social's Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese

Recipe courtesy of owner/chef Kevin P. Sloan, published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

4 sprigs of rosemary (divided)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup vegetable oil (a neutral vegetable oil or olive oil) (divided)
4 bone-in chicken thighs
8 ounces good-quality macaroni noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (divided)

Preheat oven to 440 degrees to roast the chicken, and set a pot of salted water over high heat to cook the noodles.

Take 2 sprigs of rosemary, remove needles from the stem and chop until fine. Mix rosemary with about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Rub chicken thighs with a small amount of the oil to coat, then season with the rosemary mixture.

Set seasoned thighs on a roasting pan and rack, and roast in preheated oven until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Time will vary depending on size of thighs. While thighs are in the oven, make rosemary oil (see recipe).

Remove chicken thighs from oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skin if you used thighs with skin on. (Feel free to chew on the now-crunchy seasoned chicken skins, it's really good). Pull chicken off the bone into bite-size shreds and pieces, and set aside.

(If desired, you can deglaze the pan you roasted the chicken in at this point. Use the chicken stock. After scraping the bits off the pan with the stock and a wooden spoon, the now-fortified stock can be used in the sauce.)

Meanwhile, add macaroni to the boiling, salted water. Cook according to package directions. I often find myself pulling my pasta out a minute or so ahead of time, as I'm not a fan of overcooked pasta. This recipe does well with al dente pasta, so be sure to try the noodles a minute or two before the box says to see if they are almost done.

When pasta is al dente, drain and run a little cold water on them so they stop cooking. Add a few drops of oil and coat the pasta using your hands.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add shallot and sweat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Do not let shallot brown. Add stock and let reduce by half. Add cream and let reduce by half.

Add reserved chicken, noodles, 3 ounces of the goat cheese, 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the rosemary oil, and salt and pepper. Stir ingredients to combine. You may need to continue to reduce for a few minutes until the sauce is nice and creamy and sticks to the pasta.

Plate family style on a large platter, and crumble remaining 1 ounce goat cheese over the top. Drizzle with about 1/8 cup rosemary oil.

Chicken Stock
2 1/2 pounds chicken bones
3/4 pounds peeled carrots, diced
3/4 pounds celery, diced
1 pound Spanish onions, diced
3 fresh garlic cloves, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons peppercorns

Place chicken bones in large stock pot and fill with enough water to cover bones by 4 inches. Bring to a roiling boil and skim off any scum. Add vegetables and garlic, return to boil. Reduce heat to low simmer and cook 8 to 9 hours. Let cool and strain.

Rosemary Oil
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Remove rosemary leaves from stems. Put in food processor or blender. Add oil and blend 30 seconds. Allow rosemary to steep in oil until needed. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer. Discard solids.


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