All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014
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Macaroni & cheese. Who doesn’t love it? It can be customized so many ways and, even better, can be prepared in advance & baked in the last half hour so – if you are hosting a party – you can actually enjoy it, too, and not slave in the kitchen while the guests swill your liquor together.
I hosted a little birthday thingy recently & made three, count’m – THREE – different kinds of mac & cheese. I made the one posted here and I made a Mint & Zucchini Mac & Cheese & a Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac & Cheese with Crispy Panko – seen below – respectively.
I made this pulled chicken version with Beyond Meat vegan chicken.
You could use any fake (or real) meat. I also made a homemade BBQ sauce (which is VERY easy) but your favorite jarred variety will do.
I used chipotle gouda. Only 8 oz. LOTS of other cheese, though, so the chipotle part was a tad overwhelmed but the chipotle BBQ sauce more than made up for it. If you love chipotle, maybe add a chopped chipotle pepper or two into the cheese mix of double or triple the quantity of chipotle gouda? These kinds of dishes have lots of wiggle room so do not get all anal about this shit. Mix it up & trust. It is fucking cheese & pasta. Who is gonna complain?
I used a combination of various pastas in my three dishes. The kind you use is up to you.
My dish was inspired by this photo – but the recipe is mine. The list of ingredients in the BBQ sauce is long but the instructions are short – so do not be intimidated.
Homemade Chipotle Apricot BBQ Sauce
Makes WAY more than you need for just the mac & cheese recipe – so keep leftovers jarred in the fridge
1 TBS Olive Oil
1/2 onion – diced
7 garlic cloves – minced
1 4 oz can chipotle peppers in adobo – minced
3/4 cup apricot jam or preserves
1 cup tomato sauce (I used a spicy homemade pasta sauce I had around but jarred/canned is fine)
1 cup ketchup
A few shakes hot sauce ( I love Crystal)
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1-3 TBS sriracha (or other hot sauce)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 TBS Dijon
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery salt (optional)
1 tsp ground pepper
1-3 DROPS Liquid Smoke (optional – but if you use it – GO LIGHT because this stuff gets gross fast)
2 TBS cornstarch (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a pan & saute the onions.
Once they are soft, add everything else & bring to a boil – then lower heat & simmer for 15 minutes or so. You could puree this in a blender if you liked – but I did not. I then left mine in a crock pot for a few hours but a few minutes stove top is great. If you want it thicker – stir in some cornstarch at the end. I did not do this.
Set aside. See? easy!
OK – one thing – because I made this mac & cheese for a party, I cooked it in a large casserole pan but the ramekin images were taken the next day – when I reheated the leftovers.
This is not burned on top. You are seeing the BBQ sauce & vegan chicken. Mmmmmmm!
Chipotle Gouda and Guinness (Stout) Mac and Cheese with Vegan Pulled Chicken (or Pork)
2 cups BBQ sauce (recipe above)
1 lb dry pasta – cooked & drained & cooled under running water
9 oz vegan chicken or pork (or real meat)
2 cups milk (I used almond)
4 TBS butter
4 TBS flour
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 12 oz Guinness (or other stout)
8 oz chipotle gouda
3 cups grated cheddar
2 cups grated pepper jack – divided
4 oz cream cheese
S&P to taste
1-2 cups panko or other breadcrumbs
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook & cool the pasta.
Heat up 1 1/2 cups of BBQ sauce (reserve 1/2 cup to drizzle over the top later) & drop the vegan chicken in there. Bring to a boil & the lower heat & simmer while you do the next things. When you can, however, use two forks & shred the chicken in the BBQ sauce.
Warm the milk.
In another pan, melt the butter over med-high heat & then add the flour. Whisk constantly & it should bet thick pretty fast. Heat it until it starts to turn a golden sandy color. Then, add the milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking the whole time, until all the milk is incorporated & it is sorta thick – but still pourable. Now add the beer the same way. It could get frothy & bubble over so be careful. It won’t get thick again once you add the beer. Once it is all incorporated – add all the other ingredients – EXCEPT the BBQ chicken – and be sure to reserve one cup of pepper jack to top the dish.
Spray a casserole pan with cooking spray & put the mac & cheese in. If it seems too dry, stir in some milk. I didn’t have to with this recipe. Top with panko (and I spray them with cooking spray). The one on the left is the one for this recipe.
Bake for about 25 minutes & then top it with the BBQ chicken & the reserved pepper jack. Bake another ten minutes or so – or until the cheese is melted.
Drizzle with reserved BBQ sauce, if you desire.
Let it rest 5 minutes or so & serve that shit up!