Saturday, March 03, 2012

Grown-Up Mac 'n' Cheese with Spanish Chorizo and Caramelized Red Onion

I just made the best Mac 'n' Cheese of my life, and I feel compelled to share.  It's based on the recipe here, with a lot of scaling and edits to match what I already know I like in Mac and cheese, and what I already had on hand.  It's amazingly rich and cheesy, with a bit of spice from the chorizo and a touch of sweetness from the caramelized onion.  It was amazing, and I will definitely be making this again.

Ingredients:
1 pound dried rotini pasta
6 oz Spanish Chorizo, halved lengthwise and then sliced thinly
1 large red onion, halved and then sliced thinly
3 ounces dry white wine
8 ounce ball mozzarella cheese, finely diced
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1.5 cups milk (skim is fine)
10-11 oz shredded cheddar   (this is an estimate - it was an 8 oz
block plus whatever we had left off the end of another)
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated  (we actually cheated and used a
parmesan/romano/asiago blend that was laying around)
panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
Cook pasta according to instructions, then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Meanwhile, fry chorizo for 5- 10 minutes until browned. Be careful not to burn it.
Remove with slotted spoon and add onion to the rendered fat. Cook the onion for 10 minutes or until caramelized.
Spoon pasta, chorizo and onion into a 2.5-3 quart gratin or casserole dish and mix well.


Now, Cheese Sauce:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. 

Stir in the flour gradually to make a roux. Let cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Do not let it brown!
Gradually add the milk, whisking or stirring vigorously to incorporate each time before adding more.
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until thickened and just short of boiling, about 5 minutes.
Lower the heat as far as possible, and begin adding the cheddar and stirring, melting each bit thoroughly before adding more.
Repeat for the mozzarella, then stir in the wine.


Spoon cheese sauce over the pasta, then sprinkle with Parmesan and breadcrumbs.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, then broil briefly if the breadcrumbs
aren't browned enough.
Serve and enjoy!

Notes: Bites with chorizo were plenty salted enough, while bites without seemed to need just a touch of salt.  I think this could be fixed by quartering the chorizo before slicing thinly, in order to get it more evenly distributed in the pasta.  Also, the mozzarella didn't melt all that cleanly into the sauce, but it turned out magnificently anyway, so no worries.