Crazy Mac & Cheese
by Alisa Rose P.
This is potentially one of the most unusual and craziest Mac & Cheese recipes you will ever try, while still remaining true to the essential aspects of the classic dish. This version of Mac & Cheese is zesty, flavorful and still amazingly gooey and comforting. I’ll explain the method to the madness in my summary but, really… you just have to try it to really understand it 🙂
1 bag Brown Rice Pasta Spirals (or your favorite pasta)
1/4 cup Almond Milk
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
2 tbsp. strained Bacon Fat (yes….I used bacon fat)
1 cup grated Cheese
2 slices of Salami, finely chopped
Prepare your Brown Rice Pasta according to the package instructions. Note, that it is easy to over-cook Brown Rice Pasta, so keep an eye on it.
Finely chop two slices of Salami and briefly crisp them in a small skillet. Remove the toasted pieces from the heat and set aside.
Halve your Yellow Bell Pepper and remove the stem and seeds. In a blender, puree together your Almond Milk and Yellow Bell Pepper. Once it is creamy and smooth, heat the mix in a sauce pan, adding the bacon fat to melt. Whisk the sauce regularly, as it heats up. When the sauce has heated sufficiently and the bacon fat has completely melted, pour it over the cooked and strained pasta. Stir in the cheese until it is gooey and melted.
Garnish your servings with the crispy, toasted Salami.
The Reason for the Madness:
Each ingredient has a reason for its presence in this crazy recipe, both practically and in relationship to flavor. Almond Milk provides and nutty and smooth flavor that does not rest as heavily as milk does, which is actually important when it is being paired with cheese and bacon fat. You want a liquid with enough fat to bind the ingredients but, that does not leave a coat of cream on your tongue.
Why I chose bacon fat was incidental but turned out to be genius. I had ran out of butter and was already mid-way in the recipe… the best substitute I had was strained bacon fat I had saved a couple of weeks ago. So instead of a quarter cup of butter I used two tablespoons of bacon fat, which is actually less calories in that amount than butter and provides TONS more flavor and the benefit of Omega-3’s. Chemically, it serves the same purpose and brings a touch of bacon taste and unique flavors to the dish.
The yellow bell pepper was included to add color and flavor. Bell Peppers, when blended, are both creamy and zesty, lifting the flavors of what can be a heavy dish. Plus, I love the benefit of “hidden” vegetables and the nutrition they provide in a comfort food meal.
I chose crispy, toasted Salami because the peppery and full flavors of Salami require no addition and hardly any cook time and provide so, so much flavor to the dish.
The Brown Rice Pasta? I am allergic to wheat 🙂