Who’s your favorite Food Network personality? For me, Alton Brown is up there on the list (next to Tyler Florence, but mostly because he’s cute). Alton’s show is entertaining, informative, and his food isn’t pretentious. I got his newest cookbook from my father-in-law for my birthday, Good Eats: The Early Years, and it’s packed with tons of recipes, as well as all that scientific explanation that goes along with them.
Last night we thought a baked mac & cheese would pair well with the 35 degree temperature outside, and I was anxious to use my new cookbook. We decided to add chorizo and a little cayenne pepper to Alton’s recipe (hopefully that wouldn’t offend him), and the result was a spicy mac & cheese with a little Mexican flare. The panko breadcrumbs on top added the perfect crunch. This recipe makes 6-8 servings, so you may want to halve it as we did unless you’re feeding a crowd. We ate our chorizo mac & cheese with some baked kale chips and a salad.
Alton Brown’s Mac & Cheese (+ Chorizo)
(From Good Eats: The Early Years)
1/3 lb. chorizo (bulk; no casings)
8 ounces (1/2 lb) elbow macaroni (we used small shells, even though Alton says elbow is the best!)
3 TBS. butter
3 TBS. all-purpose flour
1 TBS. ground (powdered) mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup onion, diced
3 cups milk
1 large egg
9 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
For the crispy topping:
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
3 TBS. butter, melted
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs – you know, the kind we use in everything)
- Cook the chorizo in a pan over medium high heat, using a wooden spoon to break apart as its cooking. When done, set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until firm al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until mixture is pale blond, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the mustard, paprika, cayenne, and onion. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, for 7 to 8 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
- Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl. Add a few ounces of the milk mixture and whisk to combine (this tempers the egg so it doesn’t curdle). Whisk the egg mixture back into the milk mixture. Stir in the cheese, 1 tsp. salt, and the pepper.
- Fold in the macaroni, and then the cooked chorizo. Pour into a 4-quart casserole dish.
- Top the casserole: sprinkle with remaining 3 ounces of cheese, then toss the breadcrumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle them over the cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes (broil for the last minute if the top isn’t as golden as you want it), cool for 5, and serve.