Creole Macaroni and Cheese

RedBeansAndEric.com's Creole Macaroni and CheeseAs you know, New Orleans is a food lovers paradise.  It’s not just the fancy restaurants serving the great Creole foods, but the small restaurants, food trucks and especially the home cooks that know how to put a great spin on an ordinary dish.  With the right ingredients you can give any recipe a good Creole twist or a Cajun kick.  It’s no different with the classic macaroni and cheese.

The boxed version of mac-n-cheese has been a favorite to practically everyone for a long time, the division of Kraft Foods that houses the Macaroni and Cheese brand makes $16 billion annually.  That’s a lot of noodles!  But there are others way to cook that cheesy goodness that uses more than a cheese powder.

Making macaroni and cheese from scratch is easier than you think, plus it has become an art form.  Recipe.com Named the 10 Best Macaroni and Cheese recipes to make you “think outside the box”.  Besides the homemade classic version, the list includes a “Healthy” version, one made with leeks, a “Greek” style, a “South Indian”-style and a crock pot recipe, and… drum roll please… the “Cajun” version!

The “Cajun” version from Recipes.com is a spicier version than the recipe below.   The “Creole” version I’ve been cooking was inspired by a recipe that had come across from Louisiana Kitchen and Culture magazine and it’s been one of our favorite “adult” versions of the popular noodle dish, and it’s a lot “cheesier” than any boxed meal!  You do have to use your roux making abilities to turn a blonde roux into a smooth, creamy white cheesy sauce than after the sauce is combined with the noodles, it’s topped with more cheese and baked.

If you plan on adding a mac-n-cheese to the Holiday table or any family get together, this version will be a crowd favorite for sure!  Also, try to compare the different recipes on Recipe.com to find a new favorite, you might want to ditch the box and start to cook it from scratch!

What’s you’re favorite way to eat macaroni and cheese?  Do you stick with elbow noodles or stray from the traditional way?  Are you baking it after or serving it straight from the pot?

If you’re in New Orleans, you’ll find some of the best macaroni and cheese in the country cooked there.  FOOD&WINE named Chef Donald Link’s restaurant Cochon Butcher as having one of the best bowls of macaroni and cheeses in the Country!  Their version has “elbow macaroni, cream cheese, sharp white cheddar and tomato paste along with some house-cured pancetta. A sprinkling of Parmesan and bread crumbs finishes each order.”

NOLA.com also listed the “8 great macaroni and cheese dishes at New Orleans restaurants” last year.  There you’ll find a fresh take on the elbow noodle dish in what they are calling, the “grown-ups” mac-n-cheese.  They quote Drew Lockett, chef de cuisine at Cochon Butcher in New Orleans as saying, “It’s part of our culture in southeast Louisiana. It’s comfort food, plain and simple.”

Let this “Creole” version become your new favorite!  Let me know what you think!


RedBeansAndEric.com's Creole Macaroni and CheeseCREOLE MACARONI AND CHEESE

 

16-oz elbow macaroni, cooked
3 tbsp flour
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp creole seasoning
2 cups half-and-half
1 12-oz evaporated milk
Few dashes of hot sauce
4-oz jalapeno Velvetta cheese
8-oz shredded cheddar cheese
green onions for garnish

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, add flour and make a blonde roux. Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes. Whisk in the salt, pepper and creole seasoning. Slowly add in the half-and-half and the evaporated milk, keep a constant whisk.

Add the Velvetta cheese and hot sauce; whisk until it’s melted and smooth. Cook the sauce until it’s thick, about 15 minutes.

While the sauce is thickening, cook the noodles and preheat the oven at 450 degrees.

After 15 minutes, add the cooked macaroni and blend in well.

In a greased 9 x 13 pan, pour in the mixture. Cover with the shredded cheddar cheese and cook for about 10 minutes, until it is bubbly and golden.

Garnish with chopped green onions and serve with a main dish. Enjoy!


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