For years, I was a macaroni misfit as it seemed every recipe I tried ended in a dry, hard concoction. It’s taken me eight whole years to master the art of making a creamy mac-and-cheese dish. And the lesson I learned was that the kitchen is a playground, and that instead of trying to mimic other people’s recipes, I should enjoy the adventure of finding my own rhythm. And I believe I did. Inspired by Haitian cooks’ amazing macaroni au gratin, I subbed whole milk for Carnation evaporated milk. I also subbed sharp cheddar with Finlandia Imported Muenster Cheese which is reminiscent of a gorgeous, sharp British cheddar. Instead of macaroni shells, I used corkscrew-shaped pasta. And then inspired by the gorgeously rustic pasta images I saw in a magazine article about Bologna, I baked my bad-ass macaroni and cheese in a Dutchie—an old school Dutch pot that has been in my family for at least four decades. Now I’m passing you the Dutchie, (remember that song?), hoping it will inspire you to find your rhythm. Enjoy!
- 1 pound corkscrew pasta, cooked until al dente, meaning until the pasta is slightly tender
- 1 pound Muenster cheese, cut into tiny pieces
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 4 chopped scallion stalks
- 1 chopped large green bell pepper
- 1 tiny piece of scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ to 2 cups Carnation milk
- Pre-heat oven.
- Heat a medium-size Dutch pot over medium heat.
- Add oil and 2 tablespoons of butter.
- When the butter melts into the oil, add flour and mix.
- Gently cook, whisking flour and butter together until flour cooks and until smooth (Approximately 2 to 3 minutes).
- Slowly add carnation milk while whisking.
- Bring milk to a bubble while stirring briskly.
- When the milk thickens, stir in half of the Muenster cheese.
- Season sauce with salt, half the chopped scallion, half the bell pepper and scotch bonnet pepper.
- Taste to see if you need more salt.
- Add pasta al dente to sauce and coat completely by turning over and over in the cheese sauce.
- Coat the inside of Dutch pot with remaining butter.
- Transfer pasta into Dutch pot and mix in remaining scallion and bell pepper.
- Cover with remaining cheese.
- Place Dutch pot into the oven and brown the cheese on top.
Yields 4 servings