Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sriracha Mac and Cheese

I like spicy food, but I have my limits.  I discovered sriracha sauce a while ago at a local Thai restaurant.  In small doses, I love it!  It can make anything taste good.  I wish I had a bottle at work for when I eat my crappy frozen meals.  I bought a bottle and it languished in my sauce cabinet for a while.  After reading this comic over at The Oatmeal, I was inspired to find some ways to incorporate sriracha in food I actually enjoyed eating.  I discovered that there is a sriracha sauce cookbook.  I'm not brave enough to purchase it at this point, but I found a recipe for sriracha mac and cheese and it is AWESOME. 

The blogger (Sarah for Real) I got this from tweaked the original recipe, and then I did some tweaking of my own (extra cheese! more pasta!  more onion!) and it turned out really well.  I've made this twice.  The first time, I used the recommended amount of sriracha sauce and it was a little too spicy to eat in large quantities.  So the second time, I used just a bit less and it was perfect!

No one can resist the spicy, cheesy goodness!

I increased the amount of pasta, onion, and cheese for this dish.  I used 1% milk instead of whole milk both times I made it.  For my second batch, I decreased the amount of sriracha from 1/8 cup in the original recipe to 1/16 cup.  The smaller amount was just the right amount of spice for me, but definitely use the full 1/8 if you want something that stands a good chance of making your eyes explode.  In the second batch I cooked the pasta for a shorter time.  I cooked my first batch according to the package instructions for al dente but then it felt too soft after I baked it.  So this time, I cooked it for one minute less than the package instructions for al dente and it was better. The extra cheddar really helps.  I doubled it to 4 oz.  I thought that the cheese flavor in the first batch was a little mild.  The second batch was tangier and it complemented the spicy sriracha flavor really well. 

Sriracha Mac and Cheese
Slightly adapted from Sarah for Real
Serves 2 people who really want to have heart attacks

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup panko
8 ounces tortiglioni
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups 1% milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/16 cup Sriracha
2 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
4 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 ounce parmesan cheese, shredded 

1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and boil some water for the pasta.
2) In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter.  (Or nuke it, but I prefer to use a pan). Then mix in the panko and set aside.
3) Cook the pasta until it's a little less than al dente.  Remember that you're going to bake it later, so make sure not to overboil it. Drain and set aside.
4) While the pasta is cooking, melt the rest of the butter in a large pan (it will need to hold 1 1/4 cups of liquid, all the cheese, and eventually the pasta) and saute the onions until they're soft, about 5 minutes.
5) Whisk in the flour and keep whisking it for 2-3 minutes. Then stir in 1/4 cup of milk and whisk well to break up any clumps of flour.  The liquid will thicken. 
6) Once the milk and flour are well incorporated, add the remaining 1 cup of milk, cream, salt, pepper, and mustard.  Stir well.  Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then stir in the sriracha sauce and stir well.
7) Reserve a small handful of the gruyere and cheddar.  Add the rest to the pan, a little at the a time.  Stir frequently to make sure it is well incorporated.
8) Once all the cheese is nicely melted, stir in the pasta and coat it really well with the cheese mixture.
9) Pour the cheese and pasta into an oiled (or sprayed with cooking spray) casserole dish.  I used a 9x9 Pyrex dish.
10) Top the pasta with the reserved gruyere and cheddar.  Then sprinkle the Parmesan as evenly as you can.  Lastly, spread the panko and butter mixture over the top, as evenly as you can.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Then let it sit for 5 minutes before you serve it.


ReaderRita said...

OMG, my husband and I do Sriracha in our mac and cheese all the time!!! It is SO incredibly good! We do gluten free, though. (And if anybody's looking, Trader Joe's Brown Rice Pastas are the bomb!)
Thank you for this- your recipe sounds divine- yum! I'm trying it the next time I make mac and cheese- with gluten free substitutions, of course! (*why am I suddenly so hungry?*)

Scienter said...

Sriracha makes everything taste better! I'm glad there's a gluten free version of this out there. :)


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