I'm kind of jumping the gun, but pretty sure my super yummy tribute to one of my favorite Southern staples is going to clean up at the eighth annual Cheese Festival's Mac-and-Cheese competition. The winner will get a $250 gift certificate from DeLaurenti and bragging rights. (Lookie at me! I'm THE Cheese Whiz!) Oh, and the winning dish will be served at the Festival, May 18 and 19 at the Pike Place Market. Deadline for entering the mac-and-cheese contest is May 1.
The rules and regs let contestants use up to seven ingredients, but cheeses should be readily available. And aren't we lucky we live in a cheese-tastic part of the world?
My (winning) recipe's not stuffed with fancy artisan cheese. The Pimento Cheese and Mac I make gets fired up by a fistful of Tillamook Pepper Jack and a healthy dose of hot sauce. But cranking the heat up to 11 isn't the point. It's the mild pimentos that are the star.
Pimento Cheese and Mac
1 16-ounce package of pasta
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 shallot or 1/2 white onion, minced
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
3 cups shredded pepperjack cheese
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare the pasta, cooking two minutes less than directed on the package. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter. Add the shallots and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the flour, cook for a minute. Whisk in the evaporated milk (resist the urge to use regular milk or cream, this stuff makes the sauce velvety) and let simmer for a few.
Add the pepper sauce and season to taste. Add the pasta and stir. Add the pimentos, reserving some to serve on top.