Extra Spicy Baked Mac and Cheese For a Crowd

Extra Spicy Baked Mac and Cheese For a Crowd

CNC3’s News Anchor Golda Lee Bruce swears by ramen—it’s the only thing she makes for dinner, because it’s the only thing she knows to cook. (Microwave for 3 minutes and ding ding; food is served. Easy.) For Christmas, though, she wants to impress her loved ones with an incredible spread of local dishes. In our video series Cooking with Golda, Trinidad’s youngest, extraordinary chefs show Golda how to cook and bake their favourite holiday recipes.

Ilisha Manerikar is a law student at the University of the West Indies, but she’s an aspiring chef and restauranteur. Every year, she helps her mother prepare Christmas dinner. Her mom handles the turkey; she bakes the ham and this spicy baked mac and cheese. When she migrated to Trinidad from India, she brought her love for spice. This casserole is loaded with heat, both from the paprika and chilli pepper flakes.

ILISHA’S SPICY BAKED MAC & CHEESE

YIELDS: 10 Servings

INGREDIENTS
  •  1 pound Slimdown 360 Cassava Pasta
  •  3 tablespoons butter 
  • 4 tablespoons flour 
  • 3 cups milk  
  • 3 teaspoon chilli pepper flakes 
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves  
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder 
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded  
  • 1 cup bacon (turkey or pork—either is fine) 
  • 1 cup diced onions
  •  2 cloves garlic
  •  1 cup diced tomatoes 
  • 1 cup frozen spinach 
  • Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika 
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese 
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs 
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in flour to make a roux and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Whisk the milk into the roux a little at a time, making sure to work out all the clumps so you have a smooth sauce. Cook over medium heat until milk has thickened, about 8 minutes. Add pepper flakes, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and mustard.
  4. Remove sauce from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese with a spoon or spatula until the cheese is melted.
  5. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove bacon from the pan but reserve the bacon fat. 
  6. Add garlic and onions and sauté until they’re golden brown in color. Add tomato and spinach into the mix with Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and paprika.
  7. Mix pasta and cheese sauce. Then, add the spinach sauté.
  8. Transfer to casserole dish and top with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon and breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  10. Broil for an additional 5 minutes, so the top can crisp up.
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