This is an scaled adaptation of a recipe that I created for my restaurant management class in culinary school. I’ve reduced the measurements by 4 fold and beefed up the detail in some of the steps.
Since then, I’ve made it for a few football parties and it’s been received very well. I’ve played around with the cheeses a lot, adding more asiago, gruyere, a couple of different Pecorinos, but I’ve settled on this version right here. The cheese flavor is clean, straightforward and satisfying, the sauce texture isn’t grainy but not creepy Velveeta smooth, and the infusion of the half & half adds a lot of depth and flavor. Easy to play around with too, just as long as you don’t throw the cheese to bechamel ratio too far off.
The only parts of this recipe that can be a bit fussy are the roux, which can be easy to scorch, and adding the half & half to the roux to create bechamel sauce. Everything else is easy as pie.
If you’ve never made a bechamel sauce before, there’s a couple of things you should keep in mind. You’ll end up with a bloody mess if you don’t keep your infused dairy hot while waiting to add it to the roux, or if you let your roux cool down before adding the dairy. Your best bet is to strain the infusion and keep it over low-medium heat, start the roux immediately, and when it’s finished, slowly stream the hot half & half in immediately without taking it off of the heat while whisking constantly. If the lumps don’t go away, crank up the heat a bit and continue to whisk. If they don’t go away after that, you’ve probably shocked the starches and you’ve got to start over. Sorry:-(
Before you start the actual cooking, get your cookware and ingredients together and do all of your chopping, grading, mixing etc. This way, when you’re doing the actual cooking, you can concentrate on the actual cooking. The French call this “mise en place”, which basically translates to “everything in it’s place”. With these instructions, I’m assuming that you’ve:
- Chopped the onion
- Grated the cheese
- Boiled the Macaroni to just under al dente
- Sliced the chorizo into rounds, and lightly sauteed
- Melted the butter for the topping