While I grew up enjoying Macaroni Pie as my choice for a dish with pasta and cheese as a kid on the islands and though mom made a killer mac n cheese (with boiled eggs), I only started making the coconut version of this comforting dish a few years ago. Though your family may have a tasty recipe for making your macaroni and cheese… I assure you that with the addition of coconut milk and herbs, you’ll find yourself gravitating to this version once you give it a test-drive.
3 cups pasta (uncooked measurements)
4 cups cheddar (white aged)
8 pieces of bacon
1 clove garlic (grated)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2-3 seasoning peppers (aka pimentos)
2 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
3 scallions (chopped)
4-5 sprigs thyme
3 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 1/2 – 3 cups coconut milk
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
Note: For adding a more pronounced coconut flavor (and texture) you can add some shredded coconut to the cheese sauce. You can also add a bit of shredded coconut to the topping (along with bread crumbs) for a more crunchy crust.
Boil your pasta in salted water (cook about 90%), drain and get ready to put everything together.
As the pasta cooks, lets work on the cheese sauce to bring everything together. Heat the coconut oil in a deep pan on a medium heat. Then add the diced pimento peppers, scallion, parsley, black pepper and the thyme leaves. Stir and reduce the heat to low. After 2 minutes grate in the garlic, then add 1/2 of the bacon (fried crisp and chopped into small pieces) and stir well.
With the heat on low, add the flour and stir well. The goal is to combine everything and cook-out the rawness of the flour. Cook on low (stirring) for about 4-5 minutes, then add the coconut milk (cool/chilled) and whisk. Grate in the nutmeg, raise the heat to medium and bring to a gentle simmer. Then go back to a very low heat as it will thicken very fast, but we really need it all to come together slowly.
Cook for 4 minutes (whisk so you don’t have lumps), then turn off the heat and add 3/4 of the grated cheddar (any cheese you like using) and salt. Stir to melt and combine to make a delightful cheese sauce.
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni and stir well. Then place everything into your oven-proof dish and top with the remainder of the cheddar cheese and grate on the Asiago. Sprinkle on the rest of the crispy bacon and if you wanted you can also add a bit more parsley + scallion + seasoning pepper (diced fine) on the top. On the middle rack of your preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Arguably one of the most comforting dishes you’ll ever serve your family or enjoy on those solo days. The herbal elements along with the natural sweetness of the coconut milk, will make this one of the best macaroni and cheese you’ll ever make – guaranteed!
Do you own a copy of my cookbook ?- The Vibrant Caribbean Pot 100 Traditional And Fusion recipes Vol 2