Hearty Shells and Cheese with Chicken | Fresh Tastes Blog | PBS Food

Homemade Comfort Food: Hearty Shells and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

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The past few days have been cold, foggy and grey here in Northern California. Yesterday was the first official day of Spring, but we definitely missed the memo! All this rain has left me craving some good old fashioned comfort food….and what’s better comfort food than homemade macaroni and cheese?

Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

When I was growing up, my favorite meal was shells and cheese from the box. I know…I know! But can you deny how delicious it is? Well, once you try this easy homemade version I promise you’ll leave that box on the shelf for good.

I added some chicken and broccoli to beef this classic up a bit — it’s definitely a family favorite and you cook this version right on the stove; no need to waste time in the oven.

This is one of the most delicious, satisfying thirty-minute meals I know!

Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

Creamy Shells and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli



  • 8 oz shell pasta
  • 12 oz broccoli florets
  • 8 oz cooked chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 10 oz freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • big pinch of garlic salt
  • big pinch of black pepper


  1. Bring the pasta to a boil in a large pot until tender. While the pasta is cooking, steam broccoli in the microwave by zapping it for 2 minutes, stirring halfway through. The broccoli should be bright green and just slightly tender.
  2. Drain the pasta and set aside. Set the steamed broccoli aside as well.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously until the mixture is slightly lighter than the color of peanut butter. This is called a roux and it’s used to thicken the cheese sauce.
  4. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking while you pour. Continue whisking until no lumps of roux are left. Stir continuously for about five minutes, until sauce thickens. Add the cheese, dry mustard, a big pinch of garlic salt and pepper. Keep stirring until all the cheese melts.
  5. Add the steamed broccoli and chopped chicken to the cheese sauce. Stir well. Add the cooked pasta and mix until well combined and heated through. Season again with more garlic salt and pepper and serve!

Yield: 4 servings

Jenna Weber, food blogger for PBS Food's Fresh Tastes blogJenna Weber is half of the Fresh Tastes blog team. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2008 and, since then, has worked as a pastry chef, bread baker and freelance food editor. Currently, Jenna blogs full-time on EatLiveRun.com where her delicious daily recipes and quirky culinary musings appeal to thousands. She lives in Northern California and, when not in the kitchen, can usually be found on her yoga mat.

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