Manly Mac-n-Cheese…

My buddies and I have a long-standing tradition of getting together one night a week specifically to grill up some thick-cut steaks, drink and hang out.  It’s a way for us to break away from our busy schedules, limited budgets or restrictive diets and just have an awesome, perfectly-grilled steak with friends.  Originally, there were only a couple of us and I hosted Steak Night at my house.  Since then the attendance has grown.  Steak Night is now hosted at my friend Ian’s house and we all take turns buying the steaks.  We’ve also started to introduce side-dishes.

Side dishes are tricky when the focus is put so heavily on the steaks.  We started out with simple side dishes that could not compete with the amazing slabs of beef we would serve.  Then things got serious.

Our Steak Night Mac-N-Cheese Recipe has undergone it’s own storied evolution, but the final outcome has become a staple of Steak Night.  We’ve progressed from a simple mac-in-a-box side dish to something truly extraordinary.  Though it started as a joint venture, Ian gets full credit for coaxing this recipe through it’s evolutionary process and perfecting it.  It was adapted from a couple of different recipes we found online and modified to our tastes.  THIS is the kind of Mac-N-Cheese you tell your grand-kids about…

mac-n-cheese

 The Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb rotini macaroni
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves , rough chopped
  • 5 drops hot sauce (or more depending on preference)
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • course, ground pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs , beaten to blend
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (additional cup for topping)
  • 1 cup grated asiago cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 medium boneless chicken thighs, marinated and grilled (we marinate them in Italian Dressing)
  • 1 lb thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled (should be enough to let you snack on some while cooking)
  • 2-5 medium jalapenos (chopped, diced or sliced…cook’s preference)

Directions:

  1. Boil macaroni in plenty of salted water until al dente. Drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Grease a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small processor or blender, combine milk, cream cheese, mustard, garlic, hot sauce, eggs and salt.
  5. Pour drained pasta and milk/cream cheese mixture back into pot pasta was cooked in.  Allow to ‘sit’ in pot for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This is an important step and must not be left out as it allows the sauce to start thickening and be absorbed by the pasta and not just settle in the bottom of the baking dish. 
  6. After 15 minutes, add various cheeses, jalapenos, grilled chicken, pepper and crumbled bacon and mix well altogether.
  7. Pour into prepared baking dish, cover with foil and place in preheated oven.
  8. Bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
  9. Remove dish from oven, remove foil and add an additional cup of grated cheddar cheese to the top.
  10. Return dish to the oven (without foil) and broil until the top is melted and starting to brown.
  11. Remove from oven, recover with foil and give it about 15 minutes to cool enough to eat.

 

Wet ingredients in a blender

Wet ingredients in the blender...

 

Boiling the pasta

placing a wooden spoon over the pot will keep it from boiling over when cooking pasta...

 

cheeses, jalapenos, bacon and chicken

cheeses, jalapenos, bacon and chicken in mixing bowl...

 

adding pasta to the mixing bowl

pasta added to mixing bowl...

 

pouring mixed ingredients into making pan

Once all ingredients are mixed together, pour in to baking pan...

 

mac-n-cheese in baking pan

level out the mac so it will cook evenly, do not overfill the baking pan...

 

finished mac-n-cheese in baking pan

finished mac-n-cheese should have a crusty, cheesy, golden-brown top...