Monday, 28 October 2013

Baked Macaroni

As I am drafting this post, I am thinking of the pad thai noodle and the braised duck I'm heating in the microwave oven.  Those are what we're having for lunch today (big smile)  Well, we dined at a Thai restaurant yesterday and we had those as left-over food hehehe.  Oh well, I should have ordered extra calamari and some dimsum (we had them too) for take out. I've been craving thai food for days now so my husband decided to treat me to one :-)  Mind you, the pad thai isn't hot and spicy as was expected it to be not even their tom yum. 

Anyway, I am not posting about pad thai noodles nor braised duck.  That's obvious from the picture and title of this post, isn't it :-) This is about my baked macaroni. 

The party season is almost here so I am sharing with you this pasta dish perfect for parties and special dinners.   I often whip this up whenever I need to bring food to someone's party or for potlucks / picnic outdoors.   It's somewhat such a crowd-pleaser.

My baked macaroni is a variation of the Pinoy sweet  spaghettie.  Like its cousin, the meat sauce I used for this baked macaroni is somewhat sweet.  One ingredient of the sauce that you should be most particular of is the meat.  I prefer beef over pork or chicken  as it is tastier.  But if you are like me who is avoiding red meat you can use chicken or any other poultry as you desire.  The addition of hotdog makes this baked macaroni appealing not only to adults but children as well.  

What makes this dish more special and more yummy (is there a word as yummier?) Its  the cheese toppings.   My baked mac usually consist of two layers of cheese toppings, the first would be the cheesy bechamel sauce which I make by combining different cheeses available and bechamel sauce.  Bechamel sauce is made from a mixture of roux and milk.  Then I finish topping it off with cheese slices or grated cheese if you have.  I prefer mozzarella  because of the stretching texture it adds to the baked mac.  

Here's my baked macaroni recipe.  This is actually an update of the same dish I posted 4 years ago (see Baked Macaroni )


Ingredients :

Macaroni or elbow macaroni of your choice – 400 g
Cheddar or Mozzarella Cheese slices or grated - enough to cover the top of the baked mac

Baked Mac meat Sauce:

Ground beef  – 250 g
hotdog, diced  - 5 medium pcs or as desired
Mushroom (diced) – 1 tall can
Bell pepper, diced – 1 medium
Garlic, chopped – 5 cloves
Onion, diced – 1 medium
Tomato Paste – 100 ml
Banana Catsup (UFC brand) - 1/2 of a small bottle
Water – 2 c or more
Sugar - 2 tbsp or to taste
Salt to taste
Basil, dried and ground
Rosemary, dried and ground
Thyme , dried and ground
Oregano, dried and ground
Parsley, dried and ground
Beef cubes - 2pcs or 2tbsp beef powder
Cornstarch - 5 tbsp dissolved in water

Baked Mac Cheesy Bechamel Sauce :

Unsalted butter -   100 g.
All purpose flour – 5 tbsp / 100 g
Evaporated milk – 330 ml
Heavy cream – 100 ml
Cheddar cheese, grated – 200 g.
Parmessan cheese, grated - 100 g.
Knor chicken cube – 1 cube

Cooking Procedure:

1.  Cook the macaroni noodles until aldente as directed in its package.  Drain and set aside

Baked Mac meat Sauce:

1.  Heat oil in a wok then sauté the garlic and onions until they are aromatic. 

2.  Stir in the ground beef and pan fry it until it almost turned brown.  

3.  Add in the hotdogs and continue stir-frying for  a minute or two.  Sprinkle the herbs on the meat and give a quick stir

4.  Pour in the water, tomato paste, catsup, sugar, salt, and ground black pepper.  Bring to a simmer.

5.  Pour the cornstarch dissolved in a small amount of water.  Stir.  Bring to a simmer under medium fire until the sauce is thick. Adjust taste to your liking.

6.  Remove from fire and let the sauce cool down.   

Baked Mac Cheesy Bechamel Sauce :

1.  Make a roux: On a separate saucepan on a very low heat, melt butter then add the flour and mix well. Continue mixing for about 2-3 minutes to take out the taste of the flour. For white or light colored cheese sauce, cook the roux on very low fire so that it will turn brown.  For a yellower color, cook it on very low then slowly turn to low fire until roux is slightly brown.

2. After making the roux, add the evaporated milk and heavy cream, knor seasoning, and nutmeg while whisking/stirring.  Cook under low fire.

3.  Add cheese and stir continuously until you reach the right consistency of the cheese (it should be thick but flowy)

Assembling and Cooking the Baked Mac :

1.  Mix the pasta sauce and the macaroni and pour it on a baking pan.  Flatten the surface.
2.  Spread the cheese sauce on top of the macaroni.  
3.  Arrange the sliced cheeses on top of the cheese sauce
4.   Bake at 180 degrees Celsius until the cheese sauce turns brown

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