Unfortunately for my non-LOST-fan readers, I’m going to bring up the series finale again – kinda.
A small group of people got together to watch the the last episode of LOST, giving me yet another (unnecessary) excuse to try a new recipe. I really don’t like making a big dish of macaroni and cheese for a small group – so this was a good opportunity to make it, and enjoy it, without having to consume all of the leftovers myself.
While the technique of making this is almost exactly like that used for “Resurrection Mac and Cheese,” it has an entirely different flavor profile. It is more in-your-face with the extra spices, and lacks some of the nuance from the other’s combination of Gruyere and nutmeg. The spicy mac and cheese also contains about half as much cheese – but replaces much of that fat and richness with chorizo. Chorizo can be left out to create an equally flavorful dish. I would just up the amount of hot sauce used, or add according to your own taste.
Adapted from “Spicy Macaroni and Cheese,” from the Neelys
1 lb. penne pasta
3 c. cherry tomatoes
olive oil for drizzling
Salt and pepper
1 package chorizo, casings removed and finely chopped – I used 3 links of chicken chorizo to cut down on the fat a bit, can also be omitted entirely
6 T. butter
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
4 c. milk, warm
1 t. dry mustard
1 T. hot sauce
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 c. shredded Monterey pepper jack
1 c. sharp white Cheddar
1 (2.7-oz) can fried onions
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
First, enlist some help and have him or her grate the cheese while you cook the pasta and get the sauce ready.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain in a colander.
Add the cherry tomatoes to a sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, until visibly plump and softened.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the chorizo in a saute pan until crisp. Remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, stirring for 1 minute. Whisk in the warmed milk and bring to a boil. Continue to whisk constantly. Stir while adding the mustard, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Stir in the cheese; reserving 1/2 cup for the topping. The mixture will thicken as the heat increases.
Pour the drained pasta into the cheese sauce and mix well. Add to a 3-quart casserole dish. Add the chorizo and roasted cherry tomatoes. Top with reserved cheese and the fried onions. Bake for 35 minutes. Can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking if refrigerated.
I didn’t buy the fried onions at first with the intention of swapping them out for bread crumbs. It made me think too much of green bean casserole my family always has at Thanksgiving. I then ran to the grocery nearby at the last minute and bought them – and they were delicious. Adding a nice fried-oniony flavor, as one would imagine.
This was a hit while watching the emotionally-charged last 2.5 hours of LOST. It may not be the healthiest or most gourmet of macaroni and cheese recipes out there – but it certainly was tasty and satisfying.
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