Mexican Mac N Cheese Recipe

Mexican Mac N Cheese Recipe

Mexican Mac

When I was young, the sound of onions sizzling in a pan used to scare me the way vacuums scare cats. There was something about the attention-seeking onions that were different from other foods. Where pancakes hissed and then surrendered to the pan, onions continued to cast their spell throughout the cooking process, gaining strength with every stir. I was certain that at any moment the evil onions were going to burn my mother, as she continued to wage war on the pan.

But, they never did.

Now, that same sound is the sound of home. Most of my mother’s dishes begin with the sizzle of an onion, and end with a full belly and a warm heart. When my siblings and I moved far away from home for college or work it was the simple foods we craved, my mother’s own personal sucker punches to ensure we would return. Mexican Mac N Cheese is one of those dishes.

 

Close up

 

Mexican Mac-N-Cheese

serves 4

 

ingredients

  • stars1 – 2 tbsp Canola Oil (or your choice of Olive, Canola, Vegetable, Lard or Bacon Fat)
  • ½ cup Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 7 oz pkg small Mexican Noodles (Stars, Alphabet or Small Elbow work best, can be found in the International aisle of your supermarket)
  • 8 oz can Tomato Sauce
  • Boiling Water
  • Optional: Chicken Bouillon
  • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded plus more for serving (you could substitute Jack, Colby, or other hard cheese)
  • Wide sauté or frying pan with a lid

instructions

  1. Add enough oil of your choice to your pan to coat the bottom and place over medium heat. The wider your pan, the faster your noodles will brown. Let the oil heat for a moment before moving on, this is how you’re going to get that great sizzle.
    Noodles & Onions
  2. Add the onion and noodles to the pan and stir. Brown the noodles in the oil until most of the noodles are browned.
    Browned Noodles
  3. Once the noodles are nicely browned, quickly pour enough tomato sauce to cover the surface of the noodles. This may not be the entire can. Do not stir, or the sauce can boil or burn.
    Sauced Noodles
  4. Continuing to work quickly, pour enough boiling water over the pasta to cover completely, do not stir. If you do not add enough, you will have crunchy pasta, if you add too much, you will have soup. At this point, you can sprinkle with chicken bouillon for a richer flavor, or skip for a vegetarian option.
    Watered Noodles
  5. Bring to a boil (if it isn’t already), sprinkle the cheese on top of the water, cover and reduce to low heat. Cook for 20 minutes and check if the noodles are cooked through.Cheesed Noodles
  6. Once they are fully cooked, fluff the noodles and serve. Top with extra shredded cheese.

Mexican Mac N Cheese

 

Lobster Mac

Lobster Mac

I have been dying to make Lobster Mac and Cheese since the first time I heard of it which had to have been in the late 90s. The marriage of the creamy mac and cheese and delicate chewiness of the lobster seemed an unbeatable combination. The dream was always delayed because:

  1. Lobster is expensive
  2. I hate taking risks on expensive ingredients

The other day lobster was on sale for $5 a tail, so I bought 4, the store limit. After feasting on a lobster tail dinner with my husband, I decided to use the last two tails on a Lobster Mac Fest. I spent a lot of time researching recipes, and have had a couple iterations. For example, I knew I didn’t want a bland white bechamel sauce, but rather a punchier cheddar based sauce. I wanted to use a heartier noodle, and not some ravioli or shell or linguini. Scouring the web, and after watching a plethora of Food Network episodes dedicated to the cause, I decided on this recipe courtesy of The Neelys. The sauce is creamy, decadent, flavorful, and a gorgeous color. I opted for spirals instead of penne, and likely used more cheese than the recipe calls for, though after watching the video, so do they.

Result:

Lobster Mac and Cheese… the sum is less than the whole of its parts.

The concoction is good. Maybe even great. But is it better than a lobster tail with a really good mac and cheese on the side? Eh…

I do not blame the recipe. The recipe is outstanding and completely accurate. It’s just when you get a good bite of a chunk of lobster embedded in molten cheese alongside a swirl of perfectly al dente  pasta, you can’t help but wish that the mac and cheese tasted slightly less oceany, and that the lobster were simply steamed and served with lemon and butter.

Call me crazy, but some foods are better left in the pure form and need no adornment.

So, if someone else is serving it, make mine a double. If I am paying for it, and preparing it? I think I can do better.