BLOGGER’S NOTE: PHOTOS ARE NOT INCLUDED AT THIS TIME. I WANTED TO ENSURE THAT THE RECIPE WAS POSTED PRIOR TO THANKSGIVING. I WILL UPDATE POST WITH PHOTOS AFTER THANKSGIVING, IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS.
This recipe juxtaposes my two favorite versions of macaroni and cheese: classic U.S. southern style baked macaroni and West Indian macaroni pie. There are several imitations of macaroni pie on the internet and do not do the real thing justice. Both macaroni pie and southern style baked macaroni are staple on holidays and Sunday dinners often served along side a green vegetable such as callaloo, steamed cabbage, or collard greens and of course, stewed or fried fish and fried chicken! I like my baked macaroni a little spicy so I add finely chopped habanero pepper, but feel free to leave it out. What separates my baked macaroni from that bland stuff is all of the flavor, the creaminess, and richness. Note, I did not include the calorie/nutrition information here. Why not? Because it’s calorie free of course!
Seasoned Bechamel Sauce
3 cups evaporated milk (carnation or Pet; you may also use whole, 2% or 1% milk)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons ground/dry mustard
1 teaspoon white pepper
***optional***- 1 habanero pepper seeded and finely chopped OR 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce/hot sauce
1 lb “elbow” macaroni or this for traditional style
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt for boiling pasta
1 teaspoon vegetable or olive oil for boiling pasta
2 eggs whisked (remove the white string with a knife FYI this makes your eggs taste and smell “fresh” or eggy)
2 cups (1 lb) shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup (1/4 lb) shredded pecorino romano
1 cup (1/4 lb) crumbly cubes (coarse chop using food processor) mozzarella or muenster cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large heavy bottomed pot (such as the IMUSA castiron pot) melt the stick of butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour by the heaping tablespoon full whisking thoroughly and constantly before adding more flour. Be careful not to burn.
Once all flour is incorporated add milk slowly while constantly whisking.
Reduce temperature to medium-low and add garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, white pepper, and optional hot sauce or chopped habanero.
Cook for 5-7 minutes or until rather thick. Reduce stove temperature to low.
Take a cup full of bechamel sauce mixture and add it to bowl that contains 2 whisked eggs. Slowly pour cup of sauce into eggs, whisking constantly, as not to cook/scramble eggs. Pour egg mixture back into remaining bechamel sauce.
Add 1.5 cups of shredded cheddar and pecorino romano into bechamel sauce.
Boil pasta with salt and oil until al dente/cooked but firm (about 8-10 minutes).
Drain pasta reserving about 1/2 cup of water. While still hot, return pasta to pot it was boiled in and add the reserved pasta water. Set pot aside. Be careful not to return pot to hot eye of stove.
Pour cooked pasta into pot with bechamel sauce. Stir. Season with salt (approximately 1 teaspoon).
Pour 1/2 of macaroni mixture into well greased/buttered (you can use a cooking spray to reduce the calories, Ha! Ha!) casserole dish or pan. Sprinkle with crumbly cubes of mozzarella or muenster cheese. Add remaining macaroni mixture. Top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
Bake 20-30 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden brown.