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Mac and queso fundido from Chicano Eats.
In Chicano Eats, Esteban Castillo shares his version of Mexican-American cuisine.
Our cookbook of the week is Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo. Tomorrow, we’ll feature an interview with the author.
A mashup of mac and cheese, and queso fundido, this dish is pure comfort. When Esteban Castillo was a child, boxed mac and cheese always eluded him. Now that he’s a seasoned cook, his mac and queso fundido serves as a personal kitchen redemption.
“Mac and queso fundido really came from thinking back to my childhood, and remembering all of those past failures in trying to make boxed mac and cheese. I was never able to bring the water to a boil. I never really knew how to make the cheese sauce. So this was my way of taking the power back and saying, ‘I am going to dominate this mac and cheese,’ Castillo says, laughing.
The base of the dish is pure and simple: a satisfyingly creamy mac and cheese. Castillo’s sauce is aromatic with garlic, onion and paprika, and he tops the creamy pasta foundation with chorizo and mushrooms. But the beauty of this recipe lies in its flexibility.
“You can basically do whatever you want with it. You can dress it up,” he says. “When I was thinking about the different fusions I wanted, I was like, ‘I’m already having to make a roux and a really thick cheese sauce, which is similar to queso fundido. Why can’t I just top it wth crispy mushrooms, spicy chorizo and scallions to blend both of them together?’”
MAC AND QUESO FUNDIDO
1 tbsp vegetable oil
5 oz (140 g) cremini mushrooms, sliced
Diamond Crystal kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 oz (115 g) fresh chorizo, casings removed
8 oz (225 g) cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta
2 tbsp (30 g) unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup (240 mL) chicken stock
3/4 cup (175 mL) whole milk
1/4 cup (60 mL) whipping cream
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups (165 g) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup (112 g) shredded Colby Jack
1/2 cup (50 g) shredded Parmesan cheese
1 green onion, sliced, for serving
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the cremini and cook until crispy and golden brown all over, about 5 minutes on each side. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
Line a plate with paper towels. Add the chorizo to the same skillet and cook, crumbling the meat with a spatula, until the fat has rendered and the chorizo is crispy, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and set aside on the paper towels to drain.
Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain and set the pasta aside.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour then slowly whisk in the chicken stock. Once the chicken stock is incorporated, whisk in the milk and heavy cream and continue whisking until smooth. Whisk in the onion powder and smoked paprika, then return to a simmer and cook until it begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the mozzarella, Colby Jack and Parmesan until they are completely melted. Adjust the salt to taste.
Add the pasta back into the large pot, then add the cheese sauce to the pasta and stir to evenly coat the pasta in the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the mushrooms and chorizo. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.
Serves: 4 or 5
Excerpted from Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020