Southwestern Mac & Cheese

by Patricia Eddy on May 2, 2007

I grew up on mac & cheese. Those thin blue boxes with the bright orange cheese powder were an occasional treat when I was younger. Yep, you read that right. Kraft mac & cheese as a treat. Now, the word cheese here is generous. I’m not sure that the Kraft box has any actual cheese in it.

Since I moved to Seattle, I’ve discovered that mac & cheese comes prepackaged, ready to bake, from an amazing local artisan cheese maker. Remove plastic, bake, eat. This is mac & cheese. This is a heart attack waiting to happen. This is greasy, cheesy goodness. This is perfection in a oven safe container.

More on Beecher’s Mac & Cheese in a later post.

J and I have been experimenting with making our own mac & cheese. We’ve tried two different recipes, both with excellent results. This is one of the attempts. Both recipes came originally from What We’re Eating.

Ingredients (* = organic, & = local)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter *&
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour *
  • 1 3/4 cup whole milk *
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar
  • 4 ounces havarti
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 pound chorizo
  • 1/2 cup cilantro *
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers
  • 1 jalapeno *
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 cups macaroni
  • Salt and pepper

Assembly

We (ok, J) started browning the chorizo. It’s awfully hard to determine when chorizo is browned. It’s so red to begin with and its color doesn’t change much when it’s cooked. But, we just cooked it until it seemed done and then gave it a few more minutes.

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Once that’s done, J grated the cheddar and the havarti, chopped the cilantro, diced the roasted red pepper, and the jalapeno.

Now comes the bechamel sauce. Oooooo, bechamel. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When it is melted, whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour. It’s best to keep whisking for a good minute to make the roux. Slowly pour in the milk. I poured the milk in a slow stream with one hand while continuing to whisk with the other. If you just pour without whisking, you’ll end up with lumps. Bring the sauce to a slow simmer, continuing to whisk gently. Simmer for about 10 minutes. The sauce should thicken. At this point, you can back off the whisking just a bit.

Turn off the heat and add the shredded cheeses. Stir until the cheese has completely melted. Now it’s time for a taste. Add some salt and pepper as necessary as well as the ground cumin.

Back to the chorizo… mix in the cilantro, jalapeno, and roasted red pepper.

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Mix together and add to the bechamel sauce.

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Meanwhile… cook the macaroni! Cook for 2 minutes less than the package directions as it’ll took a little more in the oven. Combine the pasta and the bechamel mixture. In a glass casserole dish, spread the mixture and top with the panko. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Here’s the finished product.

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We brought this to a party last weekend.  For this attempt, we used rice flour and gluten free pasta. We’ve made it before with regular flour and low carb pasta and it’s just as good.

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{ 1 comment }

Jenna May 2, 2007 at 10:14 pm

W00t!

This was, indeed, a hit last weekend. I’m looking forward to attempting this one :-)

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