I have a soft spot in my heart for boxed mac and cheese because it's the only kind I ever got to enjoy as a kid. There were a few times where I'd sneak into the kitchen and try to make it myself, only to fail miserably (and I mean miserably). The noodles wouldn't be cooked properly because I didn't know how to boil water, the cheese sauce would often be too runny and clumpy, resulting in a crunchy and soupy concoction. So you might be wondering, what is my mac and cheese like now that I know my way around the kitchen? Well, I'd say it's delicious, it's complex, but it's incredibly easy to make.
This recipe combines two of my favorite comfort foods — mac and cheese and queso fundido — to make a dish with so many layers of flavor: The creamy cheese sauce is infused with garlic, onion and paprika, then layered with spicy chorizo and savory mushrooms.
Stirring and mixing food like macaroni and cheese can be pretty tiring! What if you never had to stir your own pot again? At Salon Food, we cook using StirMATE, an automatic pot-stirrer that self-adjusts to all pot sizes. As an added bonus, the stirring technology helps develop more flavor and creaminess in every single bite.
Serves 4 or 5
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 5 ounces (140 g) cremini mushrooms, sliced
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces (115 g) fresh chorizo, casings removed
- 8 ounces (225 g) cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (240 ml) chicken stock
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) whole milk
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 cups (165 g) shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup (112 g) shredded Colby Jack
- 1/2 cup (50 g) shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 green onion, sliced, for serving
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the cremini and cook until crispy and golden brown all over, about 5 minutes on each side. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
- Line a plate with paper towels. Add the chorizo to the same skillet and cook, crumbling the meat with a spatula, until the fat has rendered and the chorizo is crispy, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and set aside on the paper towels to drain.
- Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain and set the pasta aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour then slowly whisk in the chicken stock. Once the chicken stock is incorporated, whisk in the milk and heavy cream and continue whisking until smooth. Whisk in the onion powder and smoked paprika, then return to a simmer, and cook until it begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the mozzarella, Colby Jack, and Parmesan until they are completely melted. Adjust the salt to taste (if your chicken stock and Parmesan aren't salty enough, your cheese sauce will need a pinch or two of salt here).
- Add the pasta back into the large pot, then add the cheese sauce to the pasta and stir to evenly coat the pasta in the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the mushrooms and chorizo. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.
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