Macaritos n Cheese
Award-winning Dorito-spiced macaroni and cheese.
For the past few years, I've entered The Takedowns Mac n' Cheese Competition. Local chefs and home cooks come from around New York City to serve their creations to hundreds of guests in the hopes of taking home the prize (and the bragging rights of course). In my first year, I made a mushroom mac, which took home second place in the People's Choice category. The following year, I decided to do something a little bold. Sadly, my wildly inventive and delicious fig-and-walnut gorgonzola mac did not win over many hearts and tummies. I knew if I were to enter the competition again, I'd have to come up with a flavor-bomb recipe that had such broad appeal, even the lactose intolerant couldn't resist. The answer to the coveted title? Dorito-spiced mac n cheese! I probably don't need to tell you that my genius take on this childhood favorite took home first place in the Judge's Choice category. If you want in on the cheesy goodness, read on for the recipe.
Ingredients (serves 8-10)
3 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups milk (1/2 cup reserved) 1/3 cup Clarie Saffitz's Dorito Spice 16 oz cheese (8 oz Kraft singles 8 oz block jalapeno jack) 1 tablespoon cornstarch 2 lbs pasta (such as cellentane or ridged elbows) 3 tablespoons salt 1 cup reserved pasta water
1/2 cup crushed Doritos
1. Bring 6 quarts of water up to boil in a large stock pot with 3 tablespoons of salt.
2. While the water comes to a boil, shred an 8 oz of jalapeno jack on a box grater and tear 8 oz of Kraft singles into quarters, set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter until foamy and add the tomato paste, saute in butter for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in 1/3 cup Clarie Saffitz's Dorito Spice to make the base for a bechamel (white sauce). Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of milk and bring up to a simmer.
4. Meanwhile add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the remaining 1/2 cup of cold milk and whisk in to combine to make a cornstarch slurry.
5. Add the cornstarch slurry to the bechamel, and bring up to a simmer until you see bubbles form, let this bubble away for at least two minutes to activate the cornstarch's thickening power.
6. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and stir to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook until al dente (about 10 minutes)
7. As the pasta boils, begin to add the American cheese to the bechamel, stir it in with a spatula in batches, until melted. Once all the singles are incorporated, do the same with the jalapeno jack.
8. Before straining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water and set aside. To a casserole dish, add the strained pasta and stir in the reserved pasta water. Enrobe pasta with cheese sauce and toss to combine.
9. For super creamy mac, top macaritos and cheese with crushed Doritos before serving. Alternately, you can top with additional cheese and place a few inches below the broiler for about 5 minutes, and top with crushed Doritos before serving.