Spicy Mac

Macaroni and cheese bores me. However, my boyfriend, as with most other American males I’ve ever encountered, adores it. Say the magic combination and his face lights up like a firefly. I thought I’d already given my best shots at the dish, to lukewarm results — no matter how much cheese you put in, nor how sharp it is, it seems, the cooking process ends up giving it a bland name. Oozy and saucy? Not without creating a beschamel first, a flour-based milk sauce which by nature makes a cheese less cheesy but seems to be the agreed way to make the sauce saucy. Unless you use some type of “processed cheese food.” Maybe I should have just thrown him a box of Kraft whenever the dish comes up. But everything at least deserves a makeover.

So we’re skipping the cheesy today and moving on to spicy. Are you with me? Good. (To its credit, the photo above was taken from the leftover version of the dish, which wasn’t very oozy.) A little kick is all it needed to whet my appetite for spicy, and that’s all it got. That, and a little grilled chorizo. Garlicky, paprika-y, they’re the perfect match for all the flavors. I suppose pepperoni, its Italian American cousin, could stand in here as well, although that’s no less greasy an alternative.

Spicy Mac
(makes 4-5 servings)

1/2 lb (1/2 box) macaroni, cooked
5 oz sharp cheddar, grated
2 cups milk
2 Tb flour
2 Tb butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
About 1 cup chorizo, sliced and grilled
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1-2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 dry mustard
1 Tb fresh parsley or oregano
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook and drain pasta. Slice chorizo into 1/4-inch thick pieces on a bias, and quickly saute to brown. Remove from heat and reserve. In a saucepan, saute onions in butter for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and flour and stir for another 3-4 minutes. Pour in milk and continue stirring until just beginning to boil. Add cheese and spices and stir until fully melted, thickened and bubbly. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Fold in fully drained, cooked macaroni and chorizo to sauce mixture and transfer everything to a casserole dish. Bake for about 20 minutes or until top is golden and crispy. Let sit a few minutes before serving.

Cost Calculator
(for 4 servings)

1/2 box macaroni: $0.60
5 oz extra sharp cheddar (at $4.99/10 oz): $2.50
2 cups milk: $0.70
1/2 cup chopped onion: $0.12
1 cup chopped chorizo (at $4.99/lb): $2.00
2 Tb butter: $0.25
1 Tb fresh parsley: $0.20
Spices, hot sauce, salt, pepper, flour: $0.20

Total: $6.57

Health Factor

Eight brownie points: another reason I don’t like macaroni and cheese — it’s really unhealthy. There’s not much to redeem it, either, aside from pulling the old calcium card. Once an indulgence, always an indulgence.

16 Responses

  1. CountryGirlCityLife

    This looks delicious. I am total upstate, I like my kraft macaroni and cheese with hot dogs. I also love spicy, though, so I am going to try this recipe.

  2. vanessa (of vanesscipes)

    >>>Macaroni and cheese bores me
    girl, you craaaaaaaaazy

  3. jenny s.

    I just finished making this. Good god damn, it’s tasty! I added some breadcrumbs and parmesan on top to make it crispy. Thank you!

  4. Stephanie

    Looks delicious, have to give it a try.

  5. Helios

    I admire your thriftiness. I cook a lot, but there are definitely nights when the kitchen is closed and one of the fine establishments on Smith Street has gained two new customers! 🙂

    But, I have to say that your post (combined with today’s yucky NYC weather) have now made me want macaroni and cheese. MMMMMMmmmmM! Thanks for sharing, and I like your blog. I’ll definitely be back! 🙂

  6. mark

    After years of growing up with my mom making home-made Mac and Cheese to keep us away from Kraft…I find, given the choice, I now catch stocking up on the awful orange stuff (darn Kraft!) when I take her by the store. What happens to our taste buds as we get into our 70’s?

    I hope I don’t have that same gene as her…it would be so sad to not enjoy a little spice and flavor…

  7. Yvo

    Hahahaha I’ve been making mac&cheese from scratch as well and my boyfriend has pitifully told me “Don’t waste your energy…” He really loves the boxed stuff. But it’s much worse for you than the homemade stuff… I think…. Sigh. When I was away, I believe he ate a box a night of this stuff. Shudder. (I still don’t know why he doesn’t gain weight, though.)

  8. […] Spicy Mac – Mac and cheese with a twist […]

  9. Hoyt Pollard

    Try Alton Brown’s stove top recipe (www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_18423,00.html). Easy and cheesy.

  10. Jen-Chi

    I loooooove mac n cheese. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  11. Ryan

    I second Hoyt’s recommendation, though I cut the butter down to about 1 Tbsp and use 1c of 2% in lieu of the condensed milk. Try upping the cheese to about 10 oz. You may get back some of the sharpness you’re missing.

  12. Jen-Chi

    I really like the mustard in this

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