Tag Archives: Cheese

Chili Con Carne Mac and Cheese

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

One of my dreams is to one day own a mac and cheese food truck!

You can just about make any flavour and then toss it through macaroni and bake it.  Imagine all the things you like, then mix it in with macaroni.  For example, I love chili and chili con carne, mix it in with macaroni, put cheese on top and and bake it in the oven and you have chili mac and cheese.  You can also have it cold like a salad like they do in the Philippines.  There they have a salad with macaroni, its usually with pineapple, ham, palm seeds, cheddar cheese and coconut dressed with mayonnaise or sour cream, sounds weird but bloody tasty stuff.

Flavours are endless really, vego’s can have Napolitana sauce and cheese or use three types of cheeses and mix it with some mustard and a little cream and bake it with some nice cheddar on top.  My favourite flavour that I’ve come up with is roasted, crispy pork belly all chopped up and tossed in a dry pan to crispen up a little more, finish it some strips smokey roasted capsicums (peppers for non Aussies), roasted red onions and chipotle sauce, toss through macaroni and bake in the oven with some stinky cheese like an Epoisses or Taleggio.  Decadence with all the good things in one plate!  Served with crushed avocado on top and sour cream and boy, you’ve got a dish no one will turn their backs on.

Try this out for starters and see what the fuss is all about.  I am using the chili recipe from the a previous blog to make things a little easier or if you make that chili recipe and wonder what you can do with any left overs.

If you cook up a braise dish like osso bucco or lamb shank or even a curry, try cutting the meaty bits down a little more and toss it through macaroni, add cheese that closely fits its flavour profile on top and bake it and who knows, maybe you can come up with your original mac and cheese!

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 8

 

700gr Raw Macaroni

100gr Salt

500gr Alexandrina Cheddar Cheese – grated

1 Recipe of Chili Con Carne Recipe – previous articles

 

Method

For the Macaroni

  1. Place ten litres of water to boil with the salt
  2. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook until al dente.  This is when you bite into a pasta, it has some resistance to the teeth but no crunch
  3. Staring in a colander and run cold water through, set aside until needed

 

To Finish:

  1. Pre Heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Using a large pot, place the chili con carne sauce and heat up until simmering
  3. Add the blanched pasta and stir through for about 5 minutes
  4. Place into a baking dish
  5. Sprinkle the cheese on top until “all” the surface area is covered, this will inhibit the pasta from getting dry
  6. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven or until the cheese is golden brown
Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang


Baked Sour Dough with Brie and Chive Butter, Green Tomato Chutney

Photo by Jun Pang

So, we have been through compound butters before.

If you can’t remember, a quick re-cap.  It is basically “flavoured” butter.  Simply put, you take softened butter, place it in a mixer and add flavourings such as nuts, herbs etc.  Depending on what you are going to use the butters for will depend on the ingredients you put into the butter for flavour.  For example, chopped herbs with lemon zest will go great with flavouring fish, a little bit of Jus (refined juices from a roast, most home cooks would call it “gravy”) and some type of fruit jelly with chopped herbs would go great with grilled beef and so on.

Most compound butters acts as a sauce in essence.  This type of compound butter is the flavouring agent and adds moisture to the bread.  The butter used for “garlic breads” is a type of compound butter.

I have added cheese to this butter for an extra element of flavour and goes well with aged sour dough bread.  If you exchange the cheese from brie to a blue cheese or a “stinky” wash rind cheese like a talegio, then you can perhaps use that in pastas.  Simply blanch pasta, a fusili perhaps, add to a heated pan with a little normal butter, add garlic and broccolini, toss the pasta through then finish with knobs of this “stinky” cheese  compound butter with lashings of herbs and you have a flavoursome and quick meal.

Make plenty of this butter as mentioned in prior blogs and freeze it in small batches and when ever you have limited time to make a meal, take a protein, add this on top and simply bake in the oven, grill or toss through a heated pan and there you go, a meal in seconds.

The chutney can also be used in many ways.  In this recipe, the acidity from the green tomatoes simply counter balances the richness of the compound butter, really smoothing out the palate.  The vincotto is also great for sweetness with a type of “prune” flavour  finish.

This dish does act as a great starter to a meal but it can also be a meal in its self.  Add some sliced parma ham, some dressed rocket and you have a complete and appetising light meal.

Photo by Jun Pang

Baked Sour Dough with Brie and Chive Butter, Green Tomato Chutney

Enough for 4 people

1 Sour Dough Loaf

For the green tomato chutney:

1kg Green Cherry  Tomatoes

300ml Cider Vinegar

400gr Brown Sugar

1 Brown Onion – diced

1 Cinnamon Stick

5 Star Anise

For the compound butter:

300gr Brie – softened

200gr Butter – softened

1 Bunch Chives – finely sliced

To Finish:

2 Punnets Baby Herbs

Vincotto

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Method

For the green tomato chutney:

  1. Place the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, onion, cinnamon stick and start anise in a pot.  Cook for about 3 hours on low heat, continually stirring until it breaks down and looks and states like a chutney.  May need to adjust sugar quantity depending on the tomatoes.

For the compound butter:

  1. Place the butter and brie in a mixer and mix using a paddle on low until it blends together.  It does not have to be super smooth, then add the chopped chives.
  2. Cut deep slits into the loaf on a slight angle but do not cut through.
  3. Butter the slits with the brie butter and cover with foil.
  4. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius in an oven or Webber for about 10 minutes.

To finish:

  1. Serve with tomato chutney on top and garnished with herbs.
  2. Drizzle the vincotto and EVOO for dipping.

Vincotto – is cooked grape must.  Simply put, it is the residue that is left from pressing grapes then that residue is cooked for a long period of time until it is slightly caramelised.  The end product is thick, dark (almost black) liquid, similar to reduced balsamic.  The flavour is much like prunes but it can also be infused with flavourings such as fig and orange on production.  Great to finish a dish such as duck with high level of sweetness but can also be treated much the same way as a vinaigrette, emulsified with EVOO, salt and pepper and used in many salads.