It might seem like we eat a lot of macaroni and cheese around here, but we really don’t. I did eat a lot of baked ziti as a kid, a dietary staple of every Italian child from the Northern suburbs of Syracuse.
Baked ziti has been breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. It’s been all four on the same day. I’ve eaten it hot, cold and that lovely fresh-from-the-microwave combination of molten with a refrigerator-cold center.
But this is not about baked ziti. This is about mac and cheese. My mother and father never made it from scratch. Mac and cheese was always a product of a blue Kraft box. My mother-in-law would never stoop to such laziness, but even with all of my family’s medigan prejudice about everything, we still ate from the blue box.
This is a heavily modified take on Serious Eats‘ recipe for mac and cheese with black beans and chipotle. I needed to depepper the recipe to get the heat out. It was still very good, especially with the flavor of the added Goya Sazon and a healthy glop of guacamole on top.
WHAT WORKED: The combination of sharp and mild cheeses made for a good, evenly distributed blend of flavors.
WHAT DIDN’T: This was pretty good all said and done.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: Today’s dinner conversation was a continuation of yesterday’s, so there were really no superlatives about dinner.
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Eventually. And next time we might work in some ancho or poblano peppers. Just for fun.
Mac and cheese with black beans
Loosely adapted from Serious Eats
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 12 oz. can evaporated milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
- 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 6 oz. block mild cheese (I used havarti), roughly grated or diced
- 6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, roughly grated or diced
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 4 finely sliced scallions
Combine cornstarch, evaporated milk, and eggs in a medium bowl and whisk until homogenous. Set aside.
Cook pasta in a large stock pot in salted water according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water. Return to stock pot and add cooking water, beans, evaporated milk mixture, and cheeses. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted (about 10 minutes) and sauce is creamy and smooth. Stir in cilantro and scallions, reserving some for garnish.
Transfer to serving bowl, top with remaining cilantro and scallions, and serve immediately.