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macaroni and cheese – with a slight twist

macaroni and cheeseI grew up on macaroni and cheese both in the homemade version and the boxed one. Both are comfort foods but it’s been years since I had the boxed one.  Every cook has their own version but is it possible to improve on a classic dish?  At first thought, no way, but after considering the additions I am about to share with you, you might think otherwise.  For those who can’t get enough of pork belly, the combination of gooey cheese and pasta mixed in with roasted cauliflower, this dish is a star!

Serves 4
250g macaroni, cooked
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk, heated
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups aged sharp cheddar cheese, grated
handful cheese curds
450g pork belly
small head of cauliflower, sliced
all-purpose spice rub

Preheat oven to 350f.

To make the cheese sauce, melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit – don’t let the paste brown. Add heated milk and continue to whisk as the sauce thickens (roughly 2 – 3 minutes). When the sauce easily coats the back of a spoon, add cheddar and stir until melted. Remove from heat and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.

For the roasted cauliflower and pork belly, rub pork belly with all-purpose spice rub and place on a large rimmed baking tray. Toss the cauliflower slices with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add to the same baking tray as the pork. Roast for 30 minutes or until cauliflower is golden brown. Remove from oven. Slice pork belly into chunks.

mac 'n cheeseIn a large bowl add cooked macaroni, roasted cauliflower and sliced pork belly. Add cheese sauce and gently stir making sure the sauce covers all ingredients. Pour the macaroni and cheese into a 9 x 9 buttered dish. Place cheese curds throughout the dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the curds begin to melt.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: You can use whatever short tube pasta you have on hand. I prefer penne. When cooking the pasta shorten the time by 2 minutes as the pasta will continue to cook while in the oven. To save time and less bowls to clean up, mix all in the same baking dish.  You will have pork belly left over to use in a salad, sandwich. Enjoy!

macaroni and cheese - with a slight twist
 
Every cook has their own version but is it possible to improve on a classic dish? At first thought, no way, but after considering the additions I am about to share with you, you might think otherwise.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 250g macaroni, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk, heated
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ cups aged sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • handful cheese curds
  • 450g pork belly
  • small head of cauliflower, sliced
  • all-purpose spice rub
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350f.
  2. To make the cheese sauce, melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit – don’t let the paste brown. Add heated milk and continue to whisk as the sauce thickens (roughly 2 – 3 minutes). When the sauce easily coats the back of a spoon, add cheddar and stir until melted. Remove from heat and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.
  3. For the roasted cauliflower and pork belly, rub pork belly with all-purpose spice rub and place on a large rimmed baking tray. Toss the cauliflower slices with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add to the same baking tray as the pork. Roast for 30 minutes or until cauliflower is golden brown. Remove from oven. Slice pork belly into chunks.
  4. In a large bowl add cooked macaroni, roasted cauliflower and sliced pork belly. Add cheese sauce and gently stir to coat the pasta in the sauce. Pour the macaroni and cheese into a 9 x 9 buttered dish. Place cheese curds throughout the dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the curds begin to melt.
Notes
The Culinary Chase’s Note: You can use whatever short tube pasta you have on hand. I prefer penne. When cooking the pasta shorten the time by 2 minutes as the pasta will continue to cook while in the oven. To save time and less bowls to clean up, mix all in the same baking dish. You will have pork belly left over to use in a salad, sandwich. Enjoy!

 

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