My aunt’s husband turns 40 this week. That meant she hosted an all out Latin style Caribbean party this past Saturday. And, in due fashion, we partied ’til the wee hours of the morning, listening to Samba, Salsa, Merengue and a host of other hip shakin’ tunes. The theme of the party was food. Not a surprise, right? Of the 50 or so guests invited, 20 of us were asked to bring one of his favorite dishes. I made a few flans and a cocktail. One of my cousin’s made her killer macaroni and cheese, a staple in American homes. It’s known among the family that D puts it down when cooking; so her mac n cheese are no different. Within 20 minutes, her two pans were ghost. I was feeling a bit off, so I didn’t nibble on a single dish. Not even her popular recipe. *Sigh* and disappointed. I’m glad today’s post will satisfy the emptiness from Saturday night. At least virtually.
Today’s post is by Marye Audet.
Have you noticed how every family has one Aunt that always brings her signature dish? In my family it was my Aunt Lucille. No matter what the event was she was begged to bring her infamous Macaroni and Cheese.
I have no idea what she put in it or how she made it – I just remember that it was amazing every time; creamy, gooey macaroni goodness that hit every tastebud on your tongue and made it vibrate with happiness. I can’t make macaroni and cheese like she did, I don’t even try. Instead I have concentrated on the feelings of comfort that dish evoked and tried to recreate that.
This macaroni and cheese is by no means traditional. It has the rich creaminess of the cheese but also has bursts of flavor from bacon, jalapeno stuffed olives, and onions that hit your mouth in rapid fire mode. A sprinkle of Panko on the top for texture and you have something worth the calories for sure.
If you spend any time at all looking at old cookbooks you may notice that most mac and cheese and cream pie recipes call for evaporated milk. The reason for this is that the canned milk makes creamy things creamier. I have tested this and tested it… I can make mac and cheese with half and half and it is still not as creamy as when I use the evaporated milk. You can substitute whole milk or half & half for the evaporated milk in this but it won’t be the same. And, if you decide to use lowfat dairy? It just almost won’t be worth eating.
Use any bacon you like but if you use a peppered bacon remember not to add any more pepper to the dish.
* All images by Marye Audet
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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SPICY MACARONI & CHEESE
- 1 lb pasta of choice (elbow, rotini, etc)
- 1 lb bacon, chopped
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup jalapeno stuffed green olives, sliced
- 1 cup shredded cheddar
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 1cup shredded smoked Gouda
- 1 cup cubed cheddar
- 2 14 oz cans evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed) OR two cups half and half
- 2 cups Panko crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375F. Boil the macaroni in salted water until done. This is one time you don’t want to stop at a la dente. Drain. Fry the bacon with the onion until the bacon is crispy and the onion is transparent. Drain off the fat but retain about 3 tablespoons. Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan. Add macaroni, onion, bacon and olives to the pan. Mix well. Add in the cheese reserving about 1/2 cup of the shredded cheddar. Mix in well. Carefully pour in the evaporated milk. Sprinkle the top with the reserved cheese and the Panko crumbs. Add pepper as liberally as you like. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve hot. This serves 8. You can leave off the crumbs and freeze it successfully for up to three months.