Man up, Denny’s. The Mac ‘N Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt on your “Let’s Get Cheesy” menu is a calorie-laden homage to The Grilled Cheese Truck‘s Cheesy Mac and Rib, but you could have taken it a step further. If you’re going to encourage cardiac arrest, spice it up a bit.
Take a lesson from eatmoreheat.com‘s James “Wreck” Beck. Hot and spicy is a lifestyle choice for him. He burns more pain receptors by 9 AM than most people do all day.
Eatmoreheat.com is dedicated to the pursuit of spicy foods and BBQ in all of their glorious (and not-so-glorious) forms. James Beck and his crew broadcast their spicy food adventures live from points around America, including tasting grub containing superhot peppers like the Bhut Jolokia. Over Labor Day weekend, James concocted a seriously hot take on mac ‘n cheese. Of course, for you wimpy Denny’s-loving mama’s boys out there, you can reduce the amount of pepper-bearing cheese materiel and substitute plain old cheese.
James Beck’s Habanero and Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese
6-10 Slices Cooked Bacon, Chopped
1 Tsp. Garlic
1/2 Cup Minced Onion
1 1/2 Sticks Butter
3 Cups Milk
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Black Pepper
2 Tsp. Green Chile Powder
3 Cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
3 Cups shredded Habanero Cheddar Cheese
3-6 New Mexico Chiles, Roasted, Chopped, Seeded and Rinsed
1 lb. Large Elbow Macaroni
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
Cook the bacon, and set aside the bacon fat. Sauté the onion and garlic in that fat in a large skillet until the onion is tender. Heat the milk over medium heat in a sauce pan. While the milk is heating, add butter to the garlic and onion. When the butter is completely melted and begins to bubble, add the flour and whisk until well mixed. Pour the warm (not boiling) milk into the butter, whisk it until thick. Reduce this mixture to low heat and add the salt, black pepper, and green chile powder. Mix well and simmer for 5 minutes to marry the flavors.
Boil the macaroni until al dente. Preheat your oven to 375 F. Add 3 cups of habanero cheddar, 2 1/2 cups of pepper jack cheese, and the chopped New Mexico chiles to the sauce. Mix this well and remove it from the heat.
Spray a 9×13-inch casserole pan with cooking spray. Place the drained pasta in the pan, then pour the cheese sauce over the top. If the cheese sauce is too thick, mix it gently with a whisk. Sprinkle the pasta mix with the bread crumbs, bacon pieces, and remaining 1/2 cup of pepper jack cheese. Bake it until brown and bubbling (approximately 30 minutes).
Heat Scale: Very Hot
See, Denny’s? Your food could have been this glorious, too. Go back down the mountain, practice, and come back when your Kung Fu is stronger. If you need guidance, sit at the feet of a Fiery Fu Master like James at eatmoreheat.com.
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In the book Ideas in Food by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot, they have this interesting and simple process where you take store bought pasta (macaroni, linguine, etc.) and soak it in flavored water and the pasta absorbs the flavor from the water. Then you boil the pasta as usual but only for a short time; 3 minutes or so. Serve it tossed with butter or olive oil. (I forget the proportion of the water and bbq sauce for the soaking water.)
In their recipe they use bbq sauce. I’m thinking that I would like to try it using Sriracha sauce.
Hi Rusty, thanks for your note.
The book you mentioned, Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work is available on amazon.com. The authors also have an interesting blog by the same name here.
Please let us know how the pasta flavored with Sriracha turns out.