Spicy Mac with Chicken

In Portland, there is a restaurant named Montage. It is known for its late night, post-drinking Southern food, especially their macaroni and cheese. They wrap their leftovers in tinfoil, giving you a sculpture to take home (a squirrel, sword, or flower anyone?). They’re known for having rude, abrupt servers, but that’s why you go late at night, post-drinking. Who cares at that hour?

That macaroni and cheese, though, is reason enough to head there any night of the week. They have several variations, but the spold [spicy+old–and it’s old as in old fashioned cheesy gravy, not old as in moldy] mac is a force to be reckoned with. It’s a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of dish. It’s spicy. It’s just good.

Ever since I saw this recipe for macaroni and cheese on The Kitchn, I knew I had to try and recreate spold at home. I put together a full batch in a 13×9 pan. The two of us almost ate the whole thing in one sitting. There were two small portions for each of us to eat for lunch the next day. I think it’s safe to say that it was pretty much awesome. On top of that, it’s relatively healthy–as far as mac is concerned anyway. I’m one of those Type-A people who uses MyFitnessPal because I’m a logaholic. I’m not trying to lose weight, but I kind of like knowing just how many calories I’m shoveling in my mouth. It works out to about 375 a serving. Isn’t that crazy good? I was surprised, delighted, and it meant I could eat even more of it.

If you’re like anyone else in my family, I know what you’re thinking. “But it has tofu in it!” Trust me. You don’t notice. It adds to the creamy rich texture without adding flavor. It’s almost like a ricotta cheese. You don’t taste the almond milk, either. Next time, I’ll probably use soy because I can’t get enough protein. I’m making this again soon, but probably going to find more vegetables to sneak in it. Pureed cauliflower? Sauteed spinach? Mushrooms? The options are endless.

Serves 8 [or two really hungry people who don’t care about portion control]


  • 12 ounces artichoke hearts [I used marinated ones because that’s all I had, but frozen work well here, too]
  • 2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 13oz elbow macaroni or small shells [I used whole wheat shells]
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded [I poached mine, but one of those rotisserie chickens would be a great time saver]
  • 8 ounces silken tofu
  • 2 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • Sriracha or hot sauce of choice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded [I used half vintage white and half sharp]
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko [I made my own with some whole grain bread]
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish [I used PAM].
  3. Place the artichoke hearts in a colander and run cold water over them for a few moments.
  4. Remove from the colander and chop into small pieces.
  5. Heat a pot of salted water to boiling and add the pasta. Cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package specifies, to just barely al dente.
  6. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking. Return to the cooking pot.
  7. Add artichoke, jalapeno, and chicken to the cooked pasta.
  8. Place a deep skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat.
  9. Mash the tofu in the pan thoroughly with a fork or whisk.
  10. Whisk in the milk, mustard, salt, cayenne and pepper.
  11. Warm the mix until bubbles form around the edges, then whisk in the cornstarch and shredded cheese.
  12. Cook, stirring constantly for five minutes until the mixture thickens just slightly. A lumpy mixture is totally okay here.
  13. Pour the cheese mixture into the pot with the pasta. Add hot sauce to taste. Stir thoroughly.
  14. Spread in the prepared baking dish.
  15. Mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle over the pasta.
  16. Top with more cayenne, salt, or pepper if desired.
  17. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on top. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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