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Chorizo & Saffron Baked Mac and Cheese

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5 servings (10 snack servings)
Total: Active:
4 Ratings 

Ingredients (14)

  • 1 lb Dried Macaroni, boiled to just under al dente
  • 1 stick Butter (for roux)
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1/2 cup Bread Crumb
  • 1 Tbs Melted Butter (for topping)
  • 1/4 lb Asiago shredded (for topping)
  • 1/4 lb Asiago shredded (for sauce)
  • 2/3 lb Really Sharp Cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1 sm Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Saffron
  • 1/2 lb Chorizo, cut into rounds, sauteed
  • 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbs Demi Glace (optional, adds a bit of depth. Boullion would be WAY too salty... just skip it if you don't have it)
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Chorizo & Saffron Baked Mac and Cheese

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.

Tips:
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

Instructions

  1. 1Making the Infused half & half: Scald, then simmer the half & half with saffron and onion.
  2. 2Making the Roux: Heat butter in skillet and when it’s hot, add flour. Stir constantly. When finished, it should be a pale tan, have a nutty smell, and be the look of wet sand.
  3. 3Making Roux into Bechamel: Slowly stream in infused half & half while whisking constantly. As soon as you add the first bit of liquid, it’ll look like it’s seizing but don’t worry! The lumps will get incorporated if you keep whisking. When you’re finished adding your liquid you should have a smooth, moderately thickened sauce.
  4. 4Making the Bechamel into Cheesy Bechamel: Add cheddar cheese and asiago 1/4c at a time, stirring very well.
  5. 5Finishing the Sauce: Mix in Dijon and Demi Glace if using. Stir until well incorporated. Test for seasoning! Add salt/pepper if necessary.
  6. 6Making the Topping: Mix the 1 Tbs melted butter, bread crumbs and 1/4 cup asiago. It’s kind of hard with breading, but do your best to taste to see if the seasoning needs to be adjusted
  7. 7Prepping the Dish: Line bottom of your baking dish with chorizo rounds
  8. 8Making Mac and Cheese: Fold the cheese sauce into the macaroni, and turn into baking dish.
  9. 9Top it: Evenly sprinkle your topping over the mac and cheese
  10. 10Bake at 350 until the topping is golden brown, about 30 min
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