4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni
This recipe by Team Jane Spice (a.k.a. Ursula Ayrout and Leila Nuri) was a crowd favorite at SF Food Wars’ 2009 Mac Battle Royale with Cheese. Congratulations!
Vadouvan is an incredibly fragrant Indian spice blend. Vadouvan elevates everyday dishes and adds indescribable flavor.
What I love most about this recipe, is how we combined a staple dish like mac and cheese with an exotic and unknown spice blend. East meets West. And, even though most people wouldn’t know vadouvan by name, the dish had universal appeal at the mac and cheese competition.
1Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
2Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, black pepper, vadouvan, ground chipotle, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère or 1 cup Pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.
3Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
4Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyère or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.