Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Deliciously Trashy Mac and Cheese with an Extra Hit of Mustard and Pickled Jalapeños


I love macaroni and cheese in all shapes and forms. I love stove-top and baked. I love classic versions and creative ones. It's definitely one of my favorite comfort foods, and although I realize it's not very diet friendly, it's something I can't quite resist from time to time.


Here's a really quick and easy recipe for some "trashy" mac and cheese using canned evaporated milk and a trio of cheeses. Personally, I think it was a little heavy on the cheese, and next time I would scale back a tad, but otherwise the recipe yields a creamy, cheesy stove-top rendition with a bit of tang from sour cream or yogurt, a kick from Dijon mustard and hot sauce, and my personal favorite touch, briny, spicy pickled jalapeños to finish it off. The acid helps cut through the richness of all that cheese.


I halved the recipe when I made it, and at first thought to myself "I can totally eat both portions myself!" but it really is pretty decadent and probably best if you stick with the suggested serving size. I also didn't have any elbow macaroni, and used ditalini instead, which worked just fine. I think any small pasta shape would work here.


Deliciously Trashy Mac and Cheese with an Extra Hit of Mustard and Pickled Jalapeños
Makes 4 servings
(From Macaroni and Cheese)

12 ounces small elbow macaroni (I didn't have elbows, so I used ditalini)
8 ounces evaporated milk
12 ounces sharp, mature cheddar cheese, shredded (I used reduced-fat medium cheddar)
6 ounces Jack or similar cheese, such as Gouda, shredded
1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or a similar hard grating cheese
1 or 2 shakes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
4 to 6 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Dijon mustard, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon paprika, or to taste
1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, or as desired, chopped, sliced or left whole

Cook pasta in a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente and drain.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat evaporated milk over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge. Reduce heat to low. Toss in pasta, then sprinkle in the cheeses in 3 or 4 batches, tossing the macaroni with the cheese after each addition so cheese melts. Add hot sauce, sour cream, Dijon, and salt and pepper if needed. Warm through and sprinkle in the paprika.

Serve the mac and cheese with the chopped or sliced jalapenos scattered on top, or serve with the whole jalapenos alongside.

You could even pour the complete dish, without the jalapenos, into a large, deep baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is crusty. But I think the appeal of this recipe is the speed with which you can throw it together.

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