Zesty Chicken Mac and Cheese


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 12 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup sliced pepperoncini salad peppers + 1/4 brine
  • 1 envelope dry zesty Italian dressing mix
  • 12 ounces dried penne or rotini pasta
  • 2 cups Small broccoli florets
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • crushed red pepper
  • Place a 6-qt Instant Pot on Saute setting. Add oil. When oil is hot, add chicken in three batches. Cook 8 Minutes or until browned, turning once. Remove all chicken from Instant Pot. Discard all but 1 Tbsp drippings. Add onion and garlic to pot. Cook 4 Minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. In a medium bowl stir together chicken broth, 1/2 cup of the peppers, pepper brine, and dressing mix. Return chicken to pot. Pour broth mixture over chicken. Lock lid in place. Set on High Pressure to cook 10 Minutes. Turn Off Instant Pot; let stand 15 Minutes to release pressure naturally. Release any remaining pressure. Open lid carefully.
  • Remove chicken and peppers, reserving cooking liquid. Remove and discard skin and bones from chicken. Shred chicken using 2 forks. Divide chicken, reserved cooked peppers, and remaining 1/2 cup peppers into 3 portions (2 1/2 cups each). Transfer two portions to airtight storage containers. Cover and chill up to 5 Days.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli the last 2 Minutes of cooking; drain.
  • Meanwhile, pour 1 cup reserved cooking liquid into a 2-cup measuring cup. Add milk and flour; whisk until combined. Place Instant Pot on Saute setting. Add milk mixture. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheeses until melted. Stir in pasta and remaining chicken and pepper mixture.
  • In a medium saucepan combine 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt; bring to boiling. Stir in 1/2 cup quick-cooking polenta. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup milk, stirring until smooth. Cook on low 15 Minutes more, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (2 oz) and 1 Tbsp butter until melted. In a saucepan heat one portion of the chicken mixture over medium. Serve chicken mixture over polenta. Top with chopped fresh dill and/or chives. Makes 4 servings.
  • Warm one portion of chicken mixture until heated through. Divide 2 cups cooked white rice, 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce, 1 cup chopped fresh tomato, and chicken mixture among 4 serving bowls. Top with 1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped and 1 cup cooked corn kernels. In a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup ranch salad dressing and 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard. Drizzle over each bowl. (Or, substitute purchased chipotle ranch salad dressing). Makes 4 servings.
  • If you like, substitute12 skinless, boneless chicken thighs for the bone-in chicken. Prepare as above, except cook chicken on Saute setting 4 Minutes or until just beginning to brown, turning once. Continue with step 1, except cook on High Pressure 6 Minutes and release pressure quickly.
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