I agree about chipotles- just one, finely chopped is enough to impart great flavor to a batch of mac & cheese; for more kick a little of the adobo sauce will do plenty.
The ever-popular bacon add-in is always super tasty, as is kielbasa. For kids, hot dogs.
Have made a nice sophisticated one with garlic, thyme and some white wine or dry sherry in the bechamel. Gives a fondue-like flavor.
I make a basic mac & cheese (bechamel sauce w/gruyere, cheddar, and parmigiano-reggiano). If I wanted to "hot" it up, I'd add dried red pepper flakes to the bechamel between the butter and the flour.
I also put dried bread cubes tossed in melted butter on top before baking; you could heat some dried ground ancho in the butter (or another chili you like, incl. chipotle, which I happen not to like).
I just read about a mac n cheese recipe that was made inside a pie crust and stuffed with caramelized onions. Has anyone tried this?
The last mac n cheese I baked included crabmeat and bay seasoning and was a real hit with the troops. I served it in a lettuce wrap appetizer size.
I found this in ReadyMade magazine a few years ago. It's now standard and well-loved:
Serves 6 to 8
Goodbye, blue box. Hello, acquired taste for basil, onions, and tomatoes. Carnivores might also add thinly sliced Serrano ham, chopped and layered on the bottom of hte casserole dish.
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 large red onion, cut into thick slices
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3/4 lb elbow macaroni
6 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
2 1/4 cups milk
3/4 lb sharp white cheddar cheese coarsly grated
Black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Hot pepper sauce, such as tobasco, to taste
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or goat cheese
1/2 cup packed coarsely chopped basil leaves
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs seasonsed with ground pepper and thyme
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish and set aside.
Arrange tomotoes and onion slices on a large baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Roast, stirring occaisionally until vegetables are golden and have given up most of their liquid, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside, and reduce heat to 350 degrees.
Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain in a colander.
Using the same pot you used to cook the mac in, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir the mixture constantly until it turns a deep golden brown (this will help thicken the cheese sauce).
Stir in milk and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Continue to stir until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add cheddar cheese, stirring until melted. Season to taste with salt, blackpepper, cayenne and hot sauce.
Pour in macaroni, tomatoes, onions, Gorgonzola, and basil. Stir to coat everything well with sauce, then turn out into prepared dish.
Sprinkle with seasoned bread crumbs and bake until top begins to brown and sauce bubbles, about 30 minutes.
- 3/4 lbs of cheese is a weird amount, a little extra cheese never hurt anyone.
- I just buy a little container of Gorgonzola, you know the ones, and dump the whole thing in. see prior note.
- so far, I haven't used the hot sauce, just Cayenne.
- Prosciutto is yummy in this.
- The other recipe on the same page of readymade was for bourbon vanilla milkshakes (mix 3 cups ice cream, 1 cup milk, a pinch of cinnamon and 1/2 cup bourbon in a blender) which seems like a perfectly reasonable beverage with this.
- I just realized I make this for pretty much every gathering, I'd apologize if it were bad mad and cheese.
I'd add it either after the cheese is added or before (but after the bechamel has formed)
I'd try adding something like Thai Red Curry Paste, or a different chili paste, or even chili sauce before adding something like salsa though. Even easier would be just adding cayenne pepper.
Having spotted this post yesterday, I eyed the garden basket at lunchtime and found 3 mild peppers, red, green and yellow. I roasted and scraped the red one, but tiring of this, just tossed the other two in the boiling pastai water, cutting them in small strips and adding after the cheese had been mixed in. Made a colorful as well as a good tasting M&C. Next time I'll try some onion, too.
Careful! Careful! There are lots of wonderful things that can be added to enhance Macaroni and Cheese, but much hot stuff should be on the table for the individual to add. I like rich habanero sauce on mine, but my wife would have a fit if I added it to hers.
Here is my recipe that I call:
Skillet Macaroni and Cheese with Sausage
• 2 cups pasta (macaroni or egg noodles), uncooked
• 1/2 tsp each dried garlic and salt (for cooking pasta)
• 1/2 lb bison sausage or ground beef (preferable grass fed)
• 1 onion, coursly chopped
• 1/2 cup sweet pepper, coursly chopped
• 2 tbsp dried tart cherries, soaked a few minutes
• 4 slices dried tomato, broken up
• 1 tsp each fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregeno etc. if available, chopped
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 cup wine *
• 1/2 cup sour cream or creamed cheese
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
• 1/8 tsp each salt, pepper, chili powder, kelp
• 1 cup shredded cheese
Cook pasta uncovered in garlic and salt water; drain and set aside.
In a skillet, saute beef, onions, peppers, cherries, and herbs over medium heat. Drain beef if necessary.
Add the cooked pasta, Parmesan, liquid and spices. Stir until blended.
Serve topped with the grated cheese. Add a sprinkle of paprika for color and a sprig of rosemary or parsley in the center for garnish.
Goes very nicely with roasted asparagus served on each side.
* The wine (you choose the type) and the fresh rosemary is the secret key ingredient. It sets this ordinary recipe apart from the mundane.
I don't know the name of the show, but I just saw something on TV where a food truck was selling grilled cheese sandwiches with a mac n cheese filling. It also had, besides the cheese and mac n cheese, some pulled pork and carmelized onions. That's a grilled cheese sandwich I could really enjoy.
And don't forget trying different cheeses. I like to use my family recipe for baked macaroni and cheese. It calls for cheddar, but I often sub other kinds for part of the cheddar. Sage Derby, pepper Jack, Gouda - there are countless possibilities. Smoked paprika is a nice addition.
If I'm trying to "spice up" Kraft Mac N Cheese, I'll add a good chunk of Fritos Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese dip.
If I'm doing a more sophisticated version of Mac N Cheese (i.e., not out of a box), I'll garnish the thing with shavings of a well-aged Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese (e.g. Widmer's), and some garlic powder, and stick it under the broiler for a minute for so before eating.
My mac and cheese expert friend raves about this recipe that uses jalapenos.
Roaring Fork Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese
From Robert McGrath, chef-owner of Roaring Fork restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona
1 tablespoon corn oil
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups macaroni, cooked
1/2 cup poblano chili, roasted, peeled, seeded and pureed
1/2 cup Pepper Jack cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Heat oil in a heavy pan over moderately high heat.
Saute bell pepper, onion and garlic until tender.
Add macaroni, poblano puree, Pepper Jack cheese and cream.
Stir until combined thoroughly.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes two servings.
Rick Bayless has a wonderful mac 'n' cheese recipe with a poblano tomato salsa. It is now my go to mac 'n' cheese recipe. I make my own salsa but for something quick and easy, you could use store bought. Just add the salsa to your white sauce, blend, and then add cheese. I usually take some buttered fresh bread crumbs, sprinkle on top of the entire thing and bake for a while.
I use red pepper flakes and a bit of mustard.
My recipe is one that was posted on the home cooking board- no cheese sauce and no boiling pasta. Basically, all the ingredients are mixed (cold) with the raw pasta. Good recipe for adding other flavors b/c you don't have to worry about when to add.
I've added all kinds of things to homemade mac n cheese. For salsa, I'd probably heat it up separately, and then just stir it in at the end for stove top mac n cheese. If you're baking the mac n cheese, don't bother heating the salsa, just stir it in right before pouring the mac n cheese into the casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs (or whatever you prefer) and bake as usual.