The Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite times of the year, and we’re sure that you can guess why we love it so much. Families and friends are all gathering around the table to share a leisurely, delicious meal. We love to host and to prepare food for others to enjoy—Thanksgiving is always a special time for each of us as we’re able to share what we do everyday with our families.

>How do you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving this year? Whether you’re hosting family and friends at your house or you’re traveling to a relative’s home, we know that you want to put something incredibly delicious on the table for everyone to share. One staple that we find at many Thanksgiving dinners is Macaroni and Cheese. Our Chef Michael is sharing one of his favorite macaroni and cheese recipes with you today… along with a topping that will take the dish to the next level.

Trust us—we know your family and friends will love this recipe!

Macaroni & Cheese with Fried Chicken Skins

Creamy Macaroni & Cheese
Ingredients
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup cottage cheese (not low-fat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked

Directions
Heat oven to 375 degrees and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. Use 1 tablespoon butter to butter a 9-inch round or square baking pan.
In a blender, purée cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt, and pepper together. Reserve 1/4 cup of grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture, and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese, and dot with remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake (uncovered) for 30 more minutes until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Fried Chicken Skins for Topping on Macaroni & Cheese
Ingredients
2 cups 1/4-inch wide strips of fresh chicken skin
2 cups whole-milk buttermilk
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 cups canola oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika

Directions
Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
With the back of a knife, scrape away all the visible fat from the chicken skin. The cleaner you get the skin at this point, the crisper it will be when fried.
Combine the buttermilk, cayenne, and salt in a baking dish. Add the skin & gently toss. Bake the chicken skin in the buttermilk in the oven for 1 hour, or until tender. Remove the baking dish from the oven and leave the skin in the buttermilk until cool enough to handle.
Remove the skin from the buttermilk, shake off any excess, and lay out on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to drain and cool completely (about 5 minutes).
Heat the canola oil to 350 degrees in a deep fryer or a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Combine the flour, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika in a baking dish.
Toss the skin in the flour mixture, coating it liberally. Working in batches, fry the skin for about 5 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Drain the skin for a minute or two on wire racks covered with paper towels.

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