Baked Macaroni

Viva Nuestra Seniora La Virgen del Pilar! Happy Fiesta to my hometown of Zamboanga!

Today I’m going to make my own version of baked macaroni to celebrate the occasion. Sharing with you here my recipe which has been tweaked to my preference and budget.

You might notice that my baked mac is bright orange in color and also a little bit sweeter than usual. It’s because I’m using banana ketchup to my sauce…it’s a Filipino thing I guess. You may omit this or substitute with tomato paste if you like.

I could have used mozzarella cheese for topping but I have a batch of cheddar cheese lying in the fridge with no immediate purpose so I decided to incorporate them into my white sauce instead.

Ingredients:

500 grams elbow macaroni, cooked according to package instructions

300 ml tomato sauce

300 ml banana ketchup

2 tbsp brown sugar

500grams minced beef

salt and pepper to taste

200 grams smoked turkey, chopped (optional)

200 grams fresh mushrooms, chopped

1 red bellpepper, finely diced

1 large onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp dried parsley

2 tsp dried basil

2 tbsp oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

banana ketchup is much sweeter than it’s tomato counterpart

cheese sauce/topping:

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup flour

3 cups fresh milk

1 cup cheddar cheese or 6 slices of prepackaged cheese

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 tsp nutmeg powder

salt and pepper to taste

not pictured: feta cheese, nutmeg powder, salt and pepper

Garlic bread:

2-3 pcs French bread

2 heads of roasted garlic

olive oil/butter

2 tsp dried parsley

Method:

  • Set aside cooked pasta. Also set aside 1 cup of the pasta liquid.
  • To prepare the sauce, saute beef in oil, garlic and onion. Break up lumps and simmer uncovered until juices released and fat rendered. Season with salt and pepper.
  • It’s a personal preference but I usually add a dried laurel leaf, a couple of star anise and a dash of Chinese 5 spice powder to my beef because it takes off a lot of that beefy smell that I don’t like. Also a teaspoon of vinegar to help tenderize the meat.

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  • Add mushrooms, carrots, pepper, smoked turkey and dried herbs. Toss altogether and simmer for a couple of minutes. Season with another teaspoon of salt.
  • Pour in the sauces and pasta water. Simmer on medium heat.
  • Season according to your taste with salt and pepper, cautiously as the pasta water and beef have already been salted. At this point I would also add sugar to mellow the sour taste of tomato sauce. Simmer for 5-10 minutes on medium to low then remove from heat.
  • Toss in the cooked pasta and parmesan cheese.
  • To make the white sauce, toss in a stick of butter unto a thick bottomed medium pan over medium-low heat
  • Once the butter is melted and bubbly, stir in the flour to make a roux.
  • Stir in cold milk in slow steady stream while stirring constantly. Make sure to dissolve lumps.
  • Season with nutmeg and a little salt.
  • Add in cheddar cheese and stir until melted.
  • To assemble this beauty, you need a shallow baking dish. Line the bottom with a thin layer of white sauce, top it with the pasta mixture. Halfway through, add another thin layer of the cheese sauce and then another layer of pasta. Finally top with crumbled feta cheese and cheddar. Slather another layer of the white sauce.
  • Place in pre heated oven for 10. minutes or until the top layer is slightly golden and crisp. I wouldn’t know for sure how hot the oven is since all its settings label have long been erased from overuse😁. I just cranked it up to high at broil setting, enough to melt the cheese and turn it a wee bit golden😊.

Garlic Bread

  • I would usually roast garlic by slicing a whole head crosswise. Then I’d season it with salt and pepper and a dash of dried parsley and olive oil. I would then wrap the garlic in foil and toss then in the oven to bake for half an hour. This method would yield me a small batch of smokey, sweet and tender garlic pieces which I would mash and mix with a cup of softened butter…to be spread on bread.
  • But today I ran out of foil so I decided to Google an alternative and came across microwave oven roasted garlic.
  • So just the same but this time used 2 heads of garlic and cut them crosswise. I season them as usual plus 2 tsp of dried parsley. Toss them into a microwave safe bowl with 2 tbsp of water and a tbsp of oil then microwave for 3 minutes uncovered.
  • Squeeze the garlic pieces off their skin and mash with a fork. Add 75 grams of butter and gave it a go for another minute in the microwave.
  • Spread over halved baguette and toast in the oven for 3-5 minutes.

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