Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mac 'n cheese

I didn't feel like going to the store, and when looking through the fridge and pantry trying to figure out what I could whip up, I noticed a box of elbow macaroni tucked away on the pasta shelf and decided that mac & cheese would be a good option. It's been years since I had last made this dish, and I had enough other ingredients to round out the dish. Mac & cheese is a great, classic, unhealthy dish, that you can put all sorts of little variations on, and I decided to make two versions, based on the ingredients at hand. Since I had just made a big southwestern dinner, a southwestern mac and cheese was obvious. I also had some Spanish chorizo - very different from Mexican or Portuguese chorizo - and manchego in the fridge, which I used to make a Spanish version. To make mac and cheese, you start with a bechamel sauce (flour/butter/milk), melt a lot of cheese into it, mix in the cooked pasta, sprinkle bread crumbs on top, and finish in the oven. On top of that basic recipe, you can do pretty much anything you want. For the southwestern mac, I used cheddar cheese, jalapenos, garlic sausage, and topped it off with some left over red pepper sauce. I had meant to add some chipotle puree to the cheese sauce, but I completely forgot about it, which is too bad since that was the main leftover ingredient that got me thinking about a southwestern mac and cheese. The Spanish version had the chorizo and a manchego-safron sauce. I thought the Spanish one was better, but I'll have to try making the southwest version agian, this time with the chipotle.

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