Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spicy, beefy, cheesy mac and cheese

Fall is here!!! actually since it snowed just over a week ago I should say that winter is here but it does not really feel like it yet except for that one day. This means that warm comforting (did I hear rich anyone???) food is back!!! I have been in a soup mood recently but someone else has been craving mac and cheese so here we go, I am presenting you with some rich, decadent grown up mac and cheese.

I never had mac and cheese until I came to the US, until then mac and cheese just meant macaroni with some gruyere cheese which is really good but let's be honest had nothing to do with that hooey gooey dish. I have tried other version and this is the combination of what I liked the most about them. 

Serves 6 to 8
- 1 lb ground beef (I used 96/4 beef)
- 1 onion minced
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 c beef broth
- 1 lb pasta (I used whole wheat macaroni changes the texture a little bit)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp AP flour
- 1 c cream (I used light cream)
- 1 c milk (I used skim)
- 2 tbsp pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or to taste, that's plenty for me
- 1 lb sharp cheddar
- 1 c panko bread crumbs
- fresh herbs (basil or thyme, optional)

- Preheat the oven to 375F
- In a large frying pan heat some oil on high heat, brown the meat, season and set aside
- In the same pan, over medium heat, heat some oil and cook the minced onion until translucent and tender, add the meat, tomato paste and beef broth. Reduce and cook the raw tomato paste taste, about 5 minutes. Set the meat sauce aside.
- In a large pot bring some salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to box instructions, you want them with some bite as they will keep cooking in the oven
- Melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour, cook the raw flour flavor out, couple minutes
- Add the milk and cream slowly avoiding lumps, mix in the adobo pepper. 
- Melt the cheese carefully in the sauce
- Mix the cheese in the pasta thoroughly then carefully fold in the meat sauce.
- Spread in an 8x8 pan, sprinkle with the bread crumbs (and herbs if you want)
- Cook for 45 min
- Serve hot with a side salad

Enjoy!!! and plan to take a nap after...

1- The meatless version is very delicious too, I have tried it with ham and bacon as well and it really depends on your mood

2- Any kind of pasta works, I just try to be healthier :)

3- Last time I made mac and cheese I used my 8x8 non stick pan and I loved the crispy edges so I tried muffin thin this time but the ratio crispy to creamy was not perfect yet and I forgot to oil the pan (MISTAKE!!!!). I think that I might try large muffin pan next time or just go back to my 8x8

4- You could use cheese as topping or any kind of bread crumbs but I try to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from my life (not an easy task in the US... I never heard of it in France :( ) and panko is the only one that consistently does not have it and it is very crispy!!!

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