As you know, New Orleans is a food lovers paradise. It’s not just the fancy restaurants serving the great Creole foods, but the small restaurants, food trucks and especially the home cooks that know how to put a great spin on an ordinary dish. It’s no different with the classic macaroni and cheese.
The boxed version of mac-n-cheese has been a favorite to practically everyone for a long time, the division of Kraft Foods that houses the Macaroni and Cheese brand makes $16 billion annually. That’s a lot of noodles! But there are other ways to cook that cheesy goodness that uses more than just a packet of cheese powder.
Making macaroni and cheese from scratch is easier than you think, plus it has become an art form. Serious Eats named the 10 Best Macaroni and Cheese recipes to make you ‘think outside the box’. Besides the homemade classic version, the list includes an extra gooey cheese version, a baked version, waffle macaroni and cheese, a chick-peas and spinach version, a pizza version and more. But there was no Creole or Cajun version.
I have a Creole Macaroni and Cheese recipe that I’ve been cooking for years. Like most of the recipe I cook, the ingredients do alter from time to time. Normally, for this ‘adult’ version, I use a jalapeno Velvetta cheese, but sometimes I use different blends. In the version of this recipe pictured below, I used the ‘Queso Blanco’ that offered a creamy and mild taste.
A good homemade version of the popular noodle dish comes out a lot cheesier than any boxed and tastes so much better. You do have to use your roux-making abilities to turn a blonde roux into a smooth, creamy white cheesy sauce. After the sauce is made, you add the cooked elbow noodles into the pot, stir making sure that the noodles are covered in the sauce; transfer the noodles to a 9×13 pan, top with more shredded cheese and bake for a few minutes to melt the cheese on top.
If you plan on adding a mac-n-cheese to the Holiday table or any family get together, this version will be a crowd favorite for sure! Also, try to compare the different recipes on Serious Eats to find a new favorite, you might want to ditch the box versions and start to cook macaroni and cheese from scratch for now on!
In New Orleans:
You’ll find some of the best macaroni and cheese in the country is cooked in New Orleans. FOOD&WINE named Chef Donald Link’s restaurant Cochon Butcher as having one of the best bowls of macaroni and cheeses in the country in fact! Their version has ‘elbow macaroni, cream cheese, sharp white cheddar, and tomato paste along with some house-cured pancetta. A sprinkling of Parmesan and bread crumbs finishes each order.’
Recently, GoNOLA made a list of the Top 5 Places to get Macaroni and Cheese in New Orleans. You’ll find some great spots to purchase what Drew Lockett, former chef de cuisine at Cochon Butcher, says about mac ‘n’ cheese: “It’s part of our culture in southeast Louisiana. It’s comfort food, plain and simple.”
Give my Creole Macaroni and Cheese recipe a try the next you to a side dish to impress. Not only is it a great addition to the holiday spread, it also pairs well with any chicken dish. Let me know what you think of it in the comment section below!
Here I served this Creole Macaroni and Cheese with my Mardi Gras Chicken Strips and spicy Creole Green Beans:
Creole Macaroni and Cheese
- 3 tbsp flour
- 6 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp Creole seasoning
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 12- oz evaporated milk
- Few dashes of hot sauce
- 4- oz jalapeno Velvetta cheese
- 16- oz elbow macaroni cooked
- 8- oz shredded cheddar cheese
- green onions for garnish
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, add flour and make a blonde roux. Once the roux is set, add onions and saute for 5 minutes.
Whisk in the salt, pepper, and Creole seasoning.
Slowly add the half-and-half and evaporated milk, keep a constant whisk.
Add the Velveeta cheese and hot sauce; whisk until the cheese is melted and smooth. Cook the sauce until it's thick, about 15 minutes.
While the sauce is thickening, cook the noodles and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Once the noodles have cooked, add the cooked macaroni to the sauce and combine making sure that the noodles are well coated with the sauce.
In a greased 9 x 13 pan, pour in the macaroni mixture. Cover with the shredded cheddar cheese and cook for about 10 minutes, until it is bubbly and golden.
Garnish with chopped green onions and serve. Enjoy!
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Keep the red beans cookin’!
Eric Olsson is the food blogger of RedBeansAndEric.com. He publishes new recipes and interviews weekly. He has developed recipes and written articles for the famous Camellia brand in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been mentioned in Louisiana Cookin‘ magazine and has had recipes featured in Taste of Home magazine – with his Creole Turkey recipe being runner up in their annual Thanksgiving recipe contest. He lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and four children.
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