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Mini Mac & Cheese

28-Jun-2011

Mini Mac & Cheese

 

I first made this recipe a couple of years ago for my annual holiday party.  I’m always looking for tasty, small bites for that party.  And I like having a few vegetarian options for those who prefer not to eat meat.  These seemed like the perfect solution. 

They were good but I thought they could be improved in a few ways.  Since then I’ve made them a few times, changing and tweaking the recipe each time.  This last weekend I made the recipe again and I really liked this version!  You can find the original version here.  But I think mine is much better!

Bite-size Mac and Cheese

1/2 pound elbow macaroni – see notes
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/8 plus 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 garlic clove, mashed
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded – about 1 packed cup
4 ounces Gruyère, shredded – about 1 packed cup
1 large egg yolk
1/4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1/8 tsp Chipotle or Red Pepper powder
2 tsp fresh thyme, lightly chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped chives for garnish

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes or follow package instructions. Drain thoroughly, shaking off the excess water.

Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins (see notes) with butter. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of the  Parmigiano from the 1/4 cup; tap out the excess.

In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and add the clove of garlic.  Cook, whisking, until boiling, about 3 – 5 minutes. Add the cheddar, Gruyère and 1/8 cup Parmigiano and whisk until melted.

Take the pan off the heat. Preheat the oven to 425°.

Remove the garlic clove, scraping off as much sauce as possible.  Whisk in the egg yolk, paprika, Chipotle powder, fresh thyme, green onion, a couple good pinches of salt and a little freshly ground black pepper. Fold in the macaroni. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.

Spoon the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.

Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for about 15 minutes (see notes). Using a small spatula, carefully loosen the mini macs and transfer to a platter.  Garnish with a little more Parmigiano and chopped chives and serve.

Notes:

  1. If using macaroni choose a small version.  You can substitute any small pasta. This time I used small shells.
  2. Do not use silicone pans. The mini macs will not brown properly and also will not hold together as well, once cooked.
  3. If you remove a mini mac from the pan and it won’t hold its shape it needs to cool a little longer.
  4. Once the mini macs are in the pans, they can be held in the refrigerator overnight. 
  5. Last weekend I only baked one half of the recipe as mini macs.  I put the extra in small ramekins and froze them for a future quick meal.
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One Comment
  1. 28-Jun-2011 10:33 am

    Oh wow! These remind me of the restaurant I worked in back in college. They had a baked macaroni dish very similar to this and then deep-fried it. So good! I’ve always wondered how to make my own, so thanks for sharing! If you have any other unusual pasta recipes I’d love to see them!
    ~Nancy Lewis~

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