Friday, April 15, 2011
Spicy Macaroni & Cheese
Happy Friday guys! You don't even know how happy I am that the weekend is finally here! It was a crazy week back at work - or maybe I'm just being a baby and wanted one more week (or a few) of vacation. But such is life. Bills need to be paid and my butt needs to work. Regardless... the weekend is here.
Tomorrow should be plenty of fun. It's Thunder Over Louisville and we'll be heading to Slugger Field for the Bats game and a permanent seat for all the fireworks festivities! I should have some good pictures next week so look out for them!
Now let's talk macaroni. Macaroni and cheese, to be exact. There's so many different ways to make the mac, how does one choose a favorite? Andy... he's a big fan of "the cheesier, the better" - and he makes a mean mac, that's for sure. But he makes it on the stove, and that's all well and good - But me, I kind of like to spice things up. Be unique. I am a fan of baked macaroni and cheese. You know, you get the crunch of the exterior noodles and then you have the underneath layers of smooth and creamy macaroni. Definitely good stuff.
Something I don't like is dry macaroni and cheese. You know, the baked ones that don't have any creaminess to them at all. Just pretty much flavorless noodles that have cheese (that's not really gooey or creamy) just sort of stuck to the noodles. Don't know what I mean? Well... then you're lucky, and you go on eating your good and creamy mac!
How about you guys? What your favorite way to make the mac?!? I'd love new suggestions to try!
12 oz. fusilli pasta
1/4 cup unsalted butter
5 large garlic cloves, minced and divided
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 & 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (more or less, depending on your preference)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 & 1/2 cups wheat bread, cut into small cubes (about 1/4 inch)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions (I did about 10-11 minutes). Drain pasta well and return to pot.
Grease a large baking dish (9x13) and set aside.
In a large skillet, melt butter under medium high heat. Stir in about 1 tablespoon of the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Whisk in flour and stir constantly for about a minute. Then whisk in milk, and season roux with salt and pepper.
Bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Stir in shredded cheddar cheese, sriracha, and cayenne pepper.
Pour mixture over pasta and mix well. Spoon mixture into an even layer in the baking dish.
Wipe skillet clean (or use another one, but I like to keep the dishes to a minimum!) and heat under medium high heat. Add olive oil to pan and heat until shimmering. Add bread cubes and cook about 5-7 minutes, or until starting to brown. Stir in remaining garlic during the last couple minutes of toasting bread to infuse a little bit more flavor.
Top pasta with garlicky bread crumbs and bake for about 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling.
This is a perfect side dish to any spring/summer cookout, or you could be like us and just eat a big plateful for dinner! I loved the garlicky crunch of the bread in contrast with the subtle heat of the macaroni and cheese. Give this one a go if you're a macaroni and cheese aficionado like us!
Have a great weekend guys!