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Creating a recipe for a month of Mac & Cheese was a fun challenge especially since I’ve rarely-if ever-actually made mac & cheese.  I wanted to make something that was faithful to the traditional style, but I wasn’t even sure what that was!  Luckily I had Keith around to help.  He grew up on mac & cheese (and it’s part of his triumvirate of comfort foods along with meatloaf and mashed potatoes) so he let me know when my first few ideas strayed a little too far from the tried and true (I guess southern style mac & cheese terrine is a bit out there…).  In the end I came up with something I’m very proud of and I think it balances tradition with bit of novelty.  I chose to use Carr Valley’s Creama Kasa, a triple cream cow’s milk cheese, along with Brussels sprouts, and pork rinds.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • ½ lb. bag conchiglie (small shell) pasta or other pasta shape
  • ½ lb. Brussels sprouts (about 1 dozen heads)
  • 1 med. shallot
  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 5T. butter, divided
  • 3 T. white wine
  • ½ lb. Carr Valley Creama Kasa cheese
  • 1 ½ c. heavy cream
  • 2 T. flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • About ½ cup of crushed chicharrónes (pork rinds)

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add the pasta. Undercook the pasta by 4-5 minutes according to the directions. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, clean and slice the Brussels sprouts into sixths. Thinly slice the shallot. Heat a pan, add canola oil and 2 tablespoons butter, then cook the shallot slices until semi-transparent. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. When the Brussels sprouts are bright green, add the white wine, lower the heat,  and cover the pan. Continue to cook for at least 8 more minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the cheese, heavy cream, 3 tablespoons melted butter, flour, salt and pepper. Mix and set aside until the pasta is ready.

Add the cooked pasta, shallots and Brussels sprouts  to the cream mixture and stir to combine. Pour everything into a baking dish. (I used a deep pie dish to bake mine.) Top with the crushed chicharrónes. Save a little bit for additional topping right before serving. Bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.

The pot of water should be boiling by now, pour half a bag of the pasta (or ½ lb.) into the water. Undercook the pasta by at least 4-5 minutes according to the directions.

Shred the cheese into a large bowl. Add to it the heavy cream, 3 T. of melted butter, flour, salt and pepper. Mix and set aside until the pasta is ready.

Place a nice handful of chicharrón into a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Mix the pasta, cream mix, and vegetables. Pour everything into a baking dish. (I used a deep pie dish to bake mine.) Top with the crushed chicharrónes. Save a little bit for additional topping right before serving. Bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.

I was a bit afraid that the chicharrónes crumb topping would get soggy but thankfully it didn’t.  The dish turned out very well and Keith’s tastebuds approved.  Now that I’ve got my first proper mac ‘n cheese under my belt, I will definitely try making some more.  Happy Eating!

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