Frita Cubana Sliders (for Krystal’s Virtual Baby Shower!)


When I first started this blog back in 2007, I wanted to archive the recipes that we threw together on a weeknight in our little Japanese kitchen. I never gave much thought to the people actually reading it, except maybe close friends and family. But then something happened over the next year or two – I discovered a community of people who also love to take pictures of their food and write about it, and a handful have become good friends.

Although I’ve never met any of these ladies in person (yet!) I feel like I know them, which is a pretty cool thing. Take Krystal for example, of Mrs. Regueiro’s Plate. We were first “introduced” on a recipe board where we both are frequent posters. When I was assigned her thin-crust pizza for an Italian-themed recipe swap, we were able to talk more about our experiences in Italy. Through comments back and forth on our blogs, it’s pretty safe to say that this Santa Cruz girl and LA girl would get along quite well. Guess what? Krystal and her husband Eric are expecting their first child in May (gender is a surprise – I love that!)

To celebrate this exciting time in their lives, Joelen of What’s Cookin’ Chicago is hosting this virtual baby shower, and I’m so excited to be a part of it. In honor of Krystal’s Filipino background and Eric’s Cuban background, Joelen asked some of Krystal’s favorite bloggers to prepare either a Filipino or Cuban dish for a baby shower fiesta.

Excited to try a new type of cuisine, I spent an afternoon doing some research.  I found myself leaning towards a Cuban dish because I was intrigued by the flavors and knew the least about the culture. I came across several recipes for a Frita Cubana – or Cuban Hamburger – and was drawn to the concept. A beef & chorizo patty is topped with a liberal handful of fried shoestring potatoes, and a generous amount of sweet & vinegary spiced ketchup. Festive, flavorful, and undeniably Cuban, I decided this was going to be my shower offering! Krystal, these sliders are fun and will add a little spice to the party – just like you! I wish you the best as you get ready to welcome your little one into the world!

To accompany your frita cubana sliders, I made a refreshing salad of fresh, chopped romaine, crunchy jicama, sweet orange, and cool avocado.


Visit the full roundup here! Krystal & Eric’s Baby Shower Fiesta!

Frita Cubana Sliders

(makes 12-16 sliders – slightly adapted form Saveur)

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. Spanish chorizo, casings removed
1/2 cup crushed saltine crackers (about 10)
2 TBS. finely chopped yellow onion
1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
Canola oil, for frying
2 large russet potatoes, peeled
soft slider rolls, split in half
Secret Sauce (recipe below)

  • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, chorizo, crushed crackers, onions, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper; Using your hands, mix everything together until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes. Form into slider-sized round, thin, patties.
  • Pour oil into a 4-qt. saucepan until it reaches a depth of 2 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 330°. Meanwhile, working over a large bowl, grate potato using the large-holed side of a box grater. Soak grated potatoes in water for 1 minute and drain. Spread potatoes on a kitchen towel and pat dry. Working in batches, fry potatoes until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to paper towels and season lightly with salt; set aside.
  • Prepare a charcoal grill. Grill the patties until cooked through and nicely browned. Spread some secret sauce on each slider bun, and place the patties on top. Top with a generous mound of fried potatoes. Drizzle with more sauce.


Secret Sauce for a Frita Cubana

(from 3 Guys from Miami)

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

  • Mix all of the ingredients together in a two-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. Use generously on your frita cubana sliders!

Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta


When the December issue of Bon Appetit introduced me to shakshuka, a popular dish in Israel, it screamed comfort to me. You crack eggs over a simmering aromatic tomato sauce, seasoned with paprika, cumin, jalapeño, and garlic, and then transfer the skillet to the oven for them to poach. Chickpeas add substance, crumbled feta adds creaminess, and chopped cilantro adds brightness. Place the hot skillet (carefully) in the middle of the table and dig in with pita bread for dipping. If you succeed in poaching the eggs just right, the whites will be set and the yolks will be nice and runny. I was not so successful. After the suggested 5-8 minutes of cooking time, my whites were still clear, so I let them go a little longer and then they overcooked. Alas. It was still delicious, however, and I’ve been blogging long enough to feel comfortable admitting my screw-up. The next morning I redeemed myself. I fried two eggs (perfectly over easy, I might add – I’m more comfortable cooking eggs in a pan than in the oven) and placed them over the leftover tomato sauce/chickpea/feta mixture. Amazing. There are not many meals that I’d gladly eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but this is one of them.

The holidays can be a time of stress, whether it’s menu planning for your first Christmas dinner, braving the crowds downtown to find the perfect sweater for uncle so-and-so, or entertaining last minute out-of-town guests. Or in my case, maybe you have a 20 month old who can go from being the sweetest boy in the world to screaming at the top of his lungs when Mommy decides it’s time to leave the children’s section of the bookstore to pay for our books. In the midst of this kind of week, may I suggest this meal as a quick (and more importantly, comforting) weeknight dinner. In 30 minutes it can be on your table, and as soon as you tear off that first piece of pita and dip it into the bubbling sauce, you’ll be reminded of what matters. There is good food to be had. And look at the people sitting around your dinner table – you’re truly lucky to have them. Looking at my own (grown-up) baby reminds me of that baby in a manger, oh so long ago, who embodied love and grace for the world; I don’t know about you, but I could sure use some of that right about now.


Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta

(From the December 2011 issue of Bon Appetit)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved*
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarsely crumbled feta
8 large eggs**
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Warm pita bread

*I used one 15 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, and one 15 oz. can of Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes (had to make use of what was in my pantry).

**For the 3 of us (yes, Levi actually counts as a whole person now when it comes to serving sizes), I used 5 eggs. I kept the amount of tomato sauce the same, even though the original recipes says it serves 4-6. It makes wonderful leftovers, and you can always fry an egg (or 2) the next morning and place it on top of the sauce.

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Heat oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeños; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add chickpeas, paprika, and cumin and cook for 2 minutes longer.
  • Add crushed tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta evenly over sauce. Crack eggs one at a time and place over sauce, spacing evenly apart. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 5–8 minutes. Garnish with parsley and cilantro. Serve with pita for dipping..

Camarones a la Diabla


Among many things, my friend Miriam and I share an affinity for making lists, browsing the store Anthropologie, and putting Sriracha on everything (except popcorn; we tried that; too soggy). We also love the same dish at Los Pericos, a taqueria in downtown Santa Cruz – Camarones a la Diabla, shrimp in a spicy, smokey chilie-tomato sauce. It’s the kind of dish that is painful to eat, but so enjoyable that you just keep going. A cold beer helps. Los Pericos serves their fiery shrimp next to cooling guacamole and sour cream (thank goodness), as well as rice, refried beans, corn tortillas, shredded iceburg lettuce, and a slice of (unfortunately pale, flavorless) tomato. But that’s ok because the rest of the dish is zesty and flavorful to make up for this unfortunate garnish. The entrée is a big commitment because of its size, but we usually do pretty well. So, if Los Pericos already makes our perfect spicy meal, why make the dish at home?  Well, because there’s a recipe for Camarones a la Diabla in The Sriracha Cookbook! After our successful Ultimate Sriracha Burgers, we decided to tackle a second recipe from the book together (with the help of our significant others).


What makes Camarones a la Diabla special is the addition of dried chilies in the sauce, three varieties, in fact. They are worth seeking out because their flavor is so unique – smokey, earthy, subtly spicy, and they are really what makes Camarones a la Diabla Camarones a la Diabla. Of course, this recipe includes Sriracha as well, which adds another dimension of flavor, that familiar combination of spicy, sweet, and tangy. We were surprised, though, that the Sriracha flavor wasn’t as prominent in the final dish. Setting the bottle on the table for people to add to taste was a good way to remedy this. We served our version with cilantro-lime brown rice, refried black beans, and a big salad. It was different from Los Pericos’ version; a little sweeter and more tomato-y, and didn’t quite pack as much punch as the recipe promised, but it was still “devilish” enough to keep us coming back for more.

Camarones a la Diabla

(From The Sriracha Cookbook)

6 dried guajillo chilies
4 dried arbol chilies
2 dried ancho chilies
1/3 cup Sriracha
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
3 tablespoons butter
1 large red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (we used cilantro instead; it is a Mexican dish!)
warmed corn tortillas, for serving

  • Toast the chilies in a dry skillet over medium heat, 3 minutes per side. They will get really fragrant and their skin slightly charred. While the chilies are toasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • When the chilies are toasted and the water is boiling, drop the chilies in the boiling water, cover, remove from heat, and let steep for 20 minutes.
  • Drain the chilies, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Discard the seeds and the skins as best you can (I was impatient and tried to do this while they were still kind of hot, which made it difficult). Throw the seeded, skinned chilies into a food processor, along with the reserved liquid, the Sriracha, and 2 TBS. of  the vegetable oil. Puree until smooth, using a spatula to wipe down the sides in between pulses.
  • Place a large pot with a lid on the stove and set a mesh strainer on top (or someone can hold it over the pot for you). Spoon the pureed chile mixture into the strainer and use a wooden spoon to force it through. At first it will seem like there’s not much to push through, but be persistent with the spoon, using a stirring motion, and eventually you’ll end up with a smooth puree at the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the can of tomato puree to the pot. Simmer the tomato/chili mixture over medium heat, 12-15 minutes or until thickened. I found the mixture to already be pretty thick and it started splattering everywhere like crazy (which is why the lid is helpful), so I didn’t simmer it for the full time – maybe only 10 minutes.
  • Heat the butter and the remaining Tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 6-7 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and cook for another minute, stirring, until they get some nice color on them. Add the tomato/chile mixture to the pan with the shrimp, onions, and garlic. Stir to combine and continue cooking until shrimp are cooked through. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve over (or next to) rice and refried beans, and warmed corn tortillas. Makes 6-8 servings.

Spiced Roast Chicken Thighs & Browned Onion Kugel


I feel like I’ve been exposed to a variety of cuisines, from Ethiopian stew in Berkeley, California, to Sri Lankan fare in downtown Osaka, and a fiery Korean chicken dish straight from the source in Seoul. But it wasn’t until I was given browned onion Kugel as my side dish for the Recipe Swap this week that I realized I’d been missing out on the wide range of Jewish dishes out there! As I was researching Kugel (which seemed like a good place to start, since I didn’t even know how to pronounce it, let alone what was in it), I learned that there are both sweet and savory versions of this noodle pudding, and they involve egg noodles (or potatoes or Matzah), sour cream, cottage cheese, and eggs.  Even Smitten Kitchen has a Kugel recipe on her blog. Clearly, I’ve been out of the loop (or just not Jewish)! Once I did my research, I couldn’t stop thinking about my side dish. It sounded so comforting to me and I couldn’t wait to try it.


But what do you serve with Kugel? I had no idea (Jewish friends, please weigh in here!), although I was smart enough to know that pork was not the right answer, nor was something involving bacon. We decided on a simple roasted chicken dish (that I found it on Elly Says Opa, adapted from Gourmet), and some roasted broccoli. Not exactly kosher, so I hope it doesn’t offend someone’s Jewish Grandmother. Actually, what I really want now is for someone’s Jewish Grandmother to cook me a traditional Jewish meal. My first taste of Kugel was so good, I would love to experience more (including the sweet variety) and expand my cuisine repertoire to include that of the Jewish tradition.


This recipe, coincidentally, came from the same blog as my last Recipe Swap recipe, Happy Insides. The Kugel is baked in muffin tins, rather than the traditional casserole dish, and includes caramelized onions and poppy seeds. We’ll definitely be making this recipe again. The only changes we made were halving it (the recipe below makes 12 side-dish servings) and using ricotta cheese in place of cottage cheese. Thanks again, Cassie & Jason, for introducing us to something new!


Browned Onion Kugel

(From Happy Insides, originally from Epicurious)

6 oz. egg noodles
1 stick unsalted butter
3 cups chopped onions (2 large)
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 1/4 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
1 TBS. poppy seeds
4 large eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Cook egg noodles in boiling, salted water until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain in colander, rinse with cool water, and drain well.
  • Melt the butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat.  Brush the muffin cups with some of the butter.  Add the onions to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer onions to a large bowl, and stir in noodles, sour cream, cottage cheese (or ricotta), and poppy seeds. Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the eggs to the noodle mixture as well. Stir to combine.
  • Divide mixture among muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, about 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 12 side-dish servings, or 6-8 main course servings.


Spiced Roast Chicken Thighs

(Adapted from the April 2000 issue of Gourmet)

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 TBS. canola oil, divided*
3 TBS. red wine (or broth)

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Pat the chicken dry. Mix together the spices and 1/2 TBS. of canola oil.  Rub all over the chicken.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over moderate heat until hot but not smoking.  Brown chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer skillet to oven and continue to cook, skin-side up, until done, about 12-18 minutes.
  • Remove chicken and place skillet on stove-top over high heat.  Deglaze pan with wine or broth, scraping up browned bits, and pour juices over chicken. Serves 2.

* So what made this chicken extra-delectable was that we browned the chicken thighs in duck fat. Yes, you read that right. Last weekend we made some amazing tea-smoked duck (to-be-blogged-about soon!) and the next day we fried some of the leftover skin to make duck cracklings. That rendered fat was was used in this chicken. Oh my gosh. So good.

Stout & Cheddar Meatloaf


Everyone has their favorite meatloaf recipe. It’s one of those classic American comfort foods that doesn’t photograph particularly well, but definitely deserves a place in a food blog. Every family adds their own special touch, like this Asian Meatloaf with a Sweet & Spicy Glaze that Dustin and I came up with last year, inspired by our time in Japan. There are so many possible combinations of ground meats, add-ins, and glazes that this Create Your Own Meatloaf Tool on Fine Cooking’s website is pretty awesome if you’re looking for inspiration on how to add a twist to this comfort food classic.

Instead of the usual corned beef & cabbage this year, we ate this delicious meatloaf that was infused with Irish cheddar and Stout, and then wrapped in bacon. It was a little more time consuming than we thought it would be, but because it was a holiday, we felt it was worth the effort. Instead of beef & veal, we used a combination of beef & lamb (a nod to another comfort food favorite, lamb and Guinness stew). We also formed two smaller meatloaves, and baked them side by side, instead of one large one that the recipe suggests.


Stout & Cheddar Meatloaf

(Slightly adapted from Fine Cooking)

2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup small-diced carrots
1/2 cup small-diced celery
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup stout beer, such as Guinness (we used a local Stout called Dark Knight from Santa Cruz Ale Works)
4 oz. medium-coarse white bread, such as Italian or French, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2-1/2 cups)
1 cup whole milk
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground lamb
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Irish White Cheddar (or regular domestic cheddar)
1/4 cup dried mushrooms, re-hydrated in hot water and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
10 oz. sliced bacon (about 9 strips)

  • Heat 2 TBS. of the oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic, stirring frequently, until softened and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the stout, and simmer briskly, until almost dry, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool until warm.
  • In a shallow dish that holds it in a single layer, soak the bread in the milk, flipping once, until soggy but not falling apart, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the coarseness and freshness of the bread. Lightly squeeze a handful of bread at a time to remove some of the milk (it should be wet but not drenched). Finely chop and add to the bowl with the vegetable mixture.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
  • Add the beef, lamb and eggs to the onion mixture. Scatter the Cheddar, re-hydrated mushrooms, and parsley over the meat, and then sprinkle with the Worcestershire, 2-1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Use your hands to gently mix all the ingredients until just combined; try not to compact the mixture as you do this.
  • Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment. Form 2 rectangular blocks (it will become loaf-shaped as it cooks) with the meatloaf mixture and place side by side on the pan. Finish by draping each one with slightly overlapping strips of bacon, tucking the ends under the loaves.
  • Bake until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F in the center of the meatloaf, 40 to 55 minutes.
  • Broil the meatloaf about 6 inches from the broiler element until the bacon is brown and crisped, about 3 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board or serving platter with a large spatula and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch-thick slices.

While we were busy making the meatloaf, Levi was busy with his new hobby, opening kitchen drawers 🙂

Caramelized Chipotle Chicken


Happy New Year! Obviously my resolution was not to blog more frequently. In fact, I didn’t make any resolutions because I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment. I just want to be a good mom this year and try to take one day at a time without worrying about the next one! It’s been harder lately to get stuff done around here. Levi’s not quite crawling yet, but he still manages to cruise around the room and get into things by sort of pivoting his body in various directions. He can also pull himself up onto the coffee table and couch, which means lots of bumps and bruises are in our near future. Despite these new challenges, we somehow managed to try a delicious new recipe last night! Thank goodness I have a husband who likes to cook!

Two of my favorite food bloggers, Elly of Elly Says Opa and Josie of Pink Parsley, made this recipe that originated in Gourmet, and both of their mouth watering pictures and descriptions pushed it to the top of our list of things to make! Plus, it’s been dipping into the 30s at night (I know that seems like nothing compared to those of you who are having crazy snow right now, but we’re self-proclaimed cold wimps from CA!), so we wanted something bold and spicy in flavor to warm us up!

Chipotle chiles in adobo are one of our favorite ingredients. Remember when we found them at an import food store in Japan and went chipotle crazy for a week, making things like Chipotle Tomato Rice, Spicy Tomato Soup, and Sizzling Hot Shrimp?  We loved the sweetness, smokiness, and tangy-ness of this dish; basically, we just pan-fried chicken breast halves, topped them with a chipotle barbecue sauce, and (per Elly’s advice) broiled them until nice and caramelized (rather than roasting). We served them with some steamed rice (made with chicken stock instead of water for more flavor; and I threw a tiny bit of chopped chipotles in there too, just for the heck of it), and a nice big salad.


Caramelized Chipotle Chicken

(Adapted from Gourmet)

3 TBS. olive oil, divided
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. chopped chipotles in adobo
1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
a pinch of cumin*
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

* Not in original recipe, but we loved the flavor it added … a little earthiness to go with the cinnamon!

  • Heat 1 1/2 TBS. of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until shimmery. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Reduce heat to medium and add the onions to the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  • Add garlic back to skillet, as well as remaining ingredients, except chicken. Simmer until thickened (for us, the sauce was already pretty thick after adding the ingredients. We only had to simmer for a few minutes to heat the sauce up and incorporate all the flavors!)
  • Season the chicken with a little salt & pepper. In another skillet, heat the remaining 1 1/2 TBS. oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken and cook until golden on one side, about 7 minutes. Flip chicken, cover skillet, and continue cooking until chicken is cooked through.
  • Preheat the broiler. Transfer cooked chicken from skillet to a baking pan. Spoon the chipotle sauce over the chicken. Place under the broiler until nice and caramelized, about 5 minutes (watching carefully, so as not to burn it!) Transfer to plates and enjoy!

Chorizo Mac & Cheese with Crispy Panko Topping


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.