I just received my copy of the Food Network Magazine today. It is the cheese issue with a picture of Bacon Mac & Cheese on the cover. This reminded me of a cajun twist that I do on this dish. It is a Cajun Mac and Cheese with Tasso. This is a perfect comfort food that is welcome on a cool winter’s night.
1 pound cooked Macaroni
1 stick Butter
1 pound Smoked Pork Tasso, diced
1/4 cup Flour
1 pint Heavy Cream
1 cup Milk
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 cup Gruyere, grated
2 cups sharp Cheddar, grated
2 cups mild Cheddar, grated and divided
1 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
2 large roasted Red Peppers, diced
2 teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning Blend
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a heavy-bottomed large saucepan, over medium-high heat, melt the stick of butter and add the diced tasso. Cook the tasso until the edges are crispy and it has browned slightly. Add the flour and cook for a minute or two, until the flour has fully incorporated and darkened a bit.
Add the cream and stir constantly, until very thick. Add the milk, whisk over high heat until thickened, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and add half of the grated Gruyere. Stir until incorporated then add the other half of the Gruyere, and continue with the sharp cheddar, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously. Then add half of the grated mild cheddar, reserving the last cup for the topping. Once all the cheese is incorporated, add the mustard, nutmeg, and diced roasted peppers.
Combine the cheese sauce with the cooked macaroni. Place in a 9 x 13 baking pan and top with reserved cheese, sprinkle with Creole Seasoning Blend and red pepper flakes and bake at 400 degrees until the top is browned and bubbly, approximately 20 minutes.