Mexican Mac’N Cheese Bake

The boys were out skiing today and I was knew they would be cold and tired when they got back. A full day out on the slopes warrants for something cheesy for dinner. Knowing the boys, as long as there’s meat, cheese and a bit of crunch (usually Bacon in their case!) they would be happy. But I had a bottle of Ranchero sauce crying out for attention as well as some jalapeno cheese screaming to go in with the macaroni 🙂

My son wanted Mac Cheese, my husband wanted something more heartwarming with a bit of meat and I wanted something spicy. Combine all of these together and you have my cheesy, beefy, spicy MexItalian Mac Cheese. It ended up being baked twice as it wasn’t cheesy or spicy enough the first time around and now I wonder, why didn’t I think of that before? I am going to bake my mac cheese twice, every time from now on. The flavours intensified so beautifully after being baked twice that this little technique is definitely a keeper for me!

I was going to keep it in the oven for a little bit more to get the crunchy parmesan topping a little more crunchier, but it was hard to keep the tired hungry and cold boys away from the oven! I’m lucky they were distracted long enough for me to take some pictures ….

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MEXITALIAN BEEFY MACARONI CHEESE BAKE

Ingredients:
2 cups macaroni, parboiled with a little salt and kept aside (it should still be hard, only lightly softened)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, grated / blitzed in the food processor
2 cups ground beef
2 cups skimmed milk
Monterey Jack, Cheddar and Mozarella cheese (to your hearts desire!) grated
black pepper and salt to taste
1/2 cup mexican jalapeno cheese sauce
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1/2 cup ranchero sauce
1 cup parmesan cheese on top
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp Sriracha sauce (as if the Jalapenos were not enough)
2 tbsp Franks hot sauce (oh yes!)
3 tbsp worcestershire sauce (believe me…_)
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano

I think the ingredients speak for themselves!!

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I used my dutch oven, as I love the stove top to oven concept (less washing up!). Heat oil in the pot, add the crushed garlic and let these infuse the oil for 10 seconds before adding the onions and jalapenos. Saute the onions for a few minutes and as they turn translucent and change colour, add the meat. Keep stirring the ground meat, as it cooks evenly and does not clump up this way.

Add the tomatoes and all the seasonings as well as half of the dried herbs. Stir in the par-cooked pasta and the milk. Add the cheese and straight into the oven after generously sprinkling half the breadcrumbs and half the parmesan cheese on top.

I put my mac cheese in the oven and then switched it on to 395F.  30 minutes later I had this …..

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I stirred it up as it was not spicy enough for me and I wanted to add more. So I added the Ranchero sauce, the other two hot sauces, and I was going to add some cayenne pepper too, but I thought of my son and stopped. Otherwise, I would have added some cayenne and chipotle peppers to this too!

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After stirring this up a little bit, I sprinkled the remaining parmesan, breadcrumbs and herbs on top. Back into the oven for 20 minutes but I would have liked to have kept it there a little longer as I wanted the parmesan and breadcrumbs to brown a little bit. With hindsight I should have added some more olive oil on top but this was fantastic as it was!

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A lovely hearty family meal in one pot and there is plenty left for lunch tomorrow.  Lets see what we can do with leftovers tomorrow…..without making a mush out of the pasta!

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