Absolutely NOTHING screams Sunday lunch/dinner in the Caribbean, than a classic Macaroni Pie. I say ‘scream’ as from island to island we argue and boast about how great our mommy, auntie, granny, daddy… pies are. Usually a recipe passed down through generations, with slight nuisances that make it uniquely ours! Here’s Chef Marc’s version on The Ultimate Macaroni Pie.. pure Caribbean comfort food!
1 lb thick pasta (Bucatini)
1 stick of butter (divided)
5-8 strips bacon (fried crispy & chopped)
2 pimento peppers (diced finely)
1/2 bird’s eye pepper (diced finely)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups aged cheddar (grated)
2 cups regular cheddar (grated)
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoon parsley (chopped finely)
2-3 cloves garlic (crushed, grated or diced finely)
1 cup diced bell (sweet) pepper
salted water for cooking the pasta
2 scallions (chopped)
3 tablespoon flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1-2 tablespoon butter to grease the baking dish
Prep the vegetables, peppers etc. Fry the bacon till crisp and chop into small pieces. Boil the pasta according to the packaged instructions (about 10-12 minutes). Drain and set aside.
Lets make the topping, then set it aside as we did with the pasta. Heat a saucepan on a medium flame and go in with 2 tablespoon of butter, then the bacon bits. After 20-30 seconds, add the bread crumbs and toast
/ stir well. It will go grainy. Make sure your heat is on low now (after you add the bread crumbs). Toss in the parsley, mix and move it off the heat.
For the cheese sauce (the base of the recipe). In a deep saucepan add the rest of the butter on a low heat and melt it. Add the peppers (pimento and Bird’s eye pepper) along with the garlic and stir well. Add the bell peppers and continue stirring. Allow it to go for about 3-4 minutes, then add the black pepper and salt. Toss in the flour and stir well. The flour will work to thicken the cheese sauce later on. Be sure to cook out the rawness of the flour – 3-4 minutes. Then add the milk and whisk. Remove the pan off the burner as you whisk.
To thicken the milk you may need to place back the pan onto the burner for a minute or 2. Turn off the stove and add 2/3 of the cheese.. whisk/stir to melt and get that lovely cheesy sauce. Finish the cheese sauce by adding
the chopped scallions.
Now it’s time to add the cooked pasta directly to the saucepan (make sure you use a large pot or pan when making the cheese sauce) and fold the macaroni and cheese together. Remember to grate in the nutmeg into the mix.
Grease the baking dish (13 x 9) with the butter, then pour in the cheesy macaroni. (use a smaller baking dish if you want a THICK pie).
Take 1/2 of the reserved (1/3) cheese and evenly spread it over the macaroni, followed by 1/2 of the breadcrumbs, then the remaining cheese.. along with the remaining breadcrumbs (basically layers of cheese and bread crumbs).
Into a 375 F oven, middle rack (uncovered) for 40 minutes. Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes (cover with foil) before cutting through.
SPECIAL thanks to Chef Marc for joining us today, but more importantly.. for sharing his take on the Ultimate Macaroni Pie. Only luv bredrin!