116 ozregular or jumbo elbow macaroni cooked to al dente
1lbbaconcooked and crumbled
6tablespoonlight or regular butterplus additional for the top
⅓cupall purpose flour
½teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper
5cupslow fat 2 % or whole milk
4ozlight or full fat chive and onion cream cheesesoftened
5cupsshredded colby-jack cheesedivided
11.0 ozpacket dry Ranch dressing seasoning
3cupsroughly chopped rotisserie chicken
2tablespoonfresh chopped chives
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
Cook the macaroni in salted water per the package directions until al dente. Drain well, pour into a mixing bowl and set aside.
While macaroni cooks, n a medium-size heavy bottomed saucepan melt butter over medium heat.
To the melted butter add flour, salt and black pepper. Mix until the flour has been absorbed by the butter stirring constantly.
Increase the temperature to medium-high and gradually whisk in the milk. Whisk constantly to prevent clumping. Bring to a boil then immediately lower the heat to low. Simmer for 3-5 minutes gently bubbling, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Turn off the heat. Add the cream cheese to the sauce. Stir until melted.
Remove from the heat, add 3 cups shredded cheese and dry Ranch dressing. Stir until fully combined. Pour the sauce over the macaroni, chicken, bacon and 1 tablespoon chives. Mix until evenly coated. (Reserve 2 tablespoon or so of bacon crumbles for garnishing)
Pour ½ into baking dish. Top with 1 cup shredded cheese. Repeat with macaroni then top with the final 1 cup of shredded cheese. Dot the top with 2 tablespoon butter.
Place into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden and the edges are bubbly.
Serve immediately garnished with reserved bacon crumbles and chives.
Lighter dairy products work very well in this recipe. Light butter, low fat milk and cream cheese.