I still recall coming back from playing football (soccer) or cricket on a Sunday morning and the house would be filled with the wonderful aroma of Sunday lunch being prepared. Though I was never a fan of it, macaroni pie is an integral part of a Trinbagonian Sunday lunch. For me the rice, stew chicken (or baked), callaloo (or stewed red beans), plantain, sweet potato and salad was all I ever had room for. I saw macaroni pie as a filler that took up prime real estate in my tummy.
Since we’re heading down to visit my parents before they head down to Trinidad for the winter months, I thought I make a batch to share the recipe with you and take some for my dad. I still don’t fancy it and he’s usually stuck with anything we have a hard time finishing.
* You’ll notice in the pics below that I used macaroni the length of spaghetti, but I’m almost positive you won’t be able to find this in grocery stores in North America, so feel free to use the elbow type we usually get here.
* I used cheddar (medium), but feel free to use a cheese “mixture” if you’re buying the pre-shredded variety you can now purchase at the grocers.
400 grams (14 oz) macaroni
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 can evaporated milk (370ml – 12.5 oz)
1/4 habanero or scotch bonnet diced fine (optional)
1/2 medium onion diced very small.
fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon butter
paprika (dust onto pie before baking)
1/3 teaspoon dry mustard
In a large pan put enough water to cover the macaroni, to boil. When the water starts boiling, salt and add the macaroni. Try not to overcook the macaroni, so we’ll only boil it for about 5-8 minutes or so. While this boils, we’ll prepare the other ingredients.
Start by dicing the onion and hot pepper as fine as you can. Then in a large bowl, add the diced pepper and onion, dry mustard, dash of black pepper, salt, eggs, butter and evaporated milk. Whisk together so everything is mixed thoroughly. Grate the cheese and add to the mixture, but keep back about 1/2 a cup to spread on top of the pie before baking.
The macaroni should be cooked by now, so go ahead… drain and allow to cool a bit, then add to the mixture we just made. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Grease a baking dish (fairly deep) as you would if you were making a cake or bread so the pie does not stick to the sides. Then add the macaroni mixture we just made. Using a spoon push down and level off. The final step before baking is to sprinkle the remaining cheese and dust with the paprika. When the oven comes to temperature place on the middle rack and allow to cook for about 30-40 minutes. You’re looking for a firm pie with a golden top. Allow to cool a bit before slicing.
1. If you don’t like biting into onions, you also have the option of grating the onion so it’s more fine than you could possibly dice. The other option is to use onion powder. Personally I love the flavour and texture of the diced onions. While we’re still on onion topic, if you can get sweet onions like a Vidalia, try using those as the dish won’t be overpowered with onions. (other types of sweet onions include the Sweet Imperial, the Spring Sweet, and the Walla Walla)
2. To reduce the heat from the diced habanero peppers, avoid using the seeds or close to the stem. The bottom part is usually less potent. The heat from the pepper does give the dish a nice finish so if you can’t stand the heat from the habaneros or scotch bonnet, try using something a bit milder.
3. If you’d like to add some more flavour to this you can always add a crushed chicken bouillon cube to the liquid mixture we made.
Do leave me your thoughts on this recipe in the comments box below and remember to share you own recipe or unique way of making this classic Sunday side dish.
If only I had some stew chicken or beef.
BTW, all my talk about not really liking macaroni pie turned out to be crap. The craving I got while the aroma permeated the house while cooking.. here’s a pic of my plate ( I didn’t even wait long enough for it to cool)