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Ralphie’s Test Kitchen

Pimento Macaroni & Cheese 1-The Duo Dishes

Everyone. Meet Ralphie. Ralphie. Meet everyone! He is a wonderful friend who turns up to most of our meal gatherings, and he never arrives empty handed. Whether it’s a tower of roasted brussels sprouts and grapes, or a peach and blueberry upside down cake (always casually thrown together by the way), Ralphie makes every entrance with a beautifully decorated platter of something amazing in hand. It was just a matter of time until it was his turn to share in our monthly Guest Test Kitchen section. We hope you enjoy this edition. We know you’re gonna love him as much as we do!

Pimento Macaroni & Cheese 2-The Duo Dishes

“For Christmas my fabulous fellow foodie friend Kellie gifted me a yearlong subscription to Bon Appetit magazine. As one of my 2011 New Year’s resolutions, I will attempt to create the cover photo recipe each month. As most magazines usually come out prior to the month, I skipped January. February was all about browned butter cocoa walnut brownies. March was a delicious pimento mac and cheese, and April was a complete Greek Easter dinner. For our purposes today, we will explore the pimento mac and cheese. After all, who doesn’t love a little comfort food.

This experiment requires three types of cheese, a few different types of pepper and some other goodness.

The cheeses:
1/2 cup grated freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cup (packed) grated extra sharp cheese
1 1/4 cup (packed) grated whole milk mozzarella

The peppers:
One 7 to 8 oz red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground Ancho chiles
3/4 cup drained Peppadew peppers in brine, 1 tablespoon brine reserved

Other supporting ingredients:
2 garlic cloves, halved and divided
1/2 cup panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
8 ounces medium shell pasta

Bring 1/2 cup of water, the bell pepper and 1 1/2 garlic cloves to boil in a small saucepan, reducing the heat to medium or medium low. Cook until the pepper is soft, about 15 min.

Toast the panko crumbs in a pan over medium high heat until golden brown, stirring often. After 5-6 minutes, scrape them into a bowl and cool slightly. Stir in 1 tablespoon of butter, along with 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Pour the soft bell pepper, water and garlic into a food processor. (I used a blender and it worked way better for this part). Add Peppadews and 1 tablespoon brine, 2 tablespoons butter, ground chiles, and remaining garlic. Then add the cheddar cheese and the rest of the parmesan. Blend until sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (This was just good on its own. I think it makes a good dip for chips at this point, too!)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8-cup baking dish (or six individual ramekins). Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain and pour back into the original pot. Add the blended sauce and mozzarella cheese, seasoning again with salt and pepper. Top with the panko crumbs.

Bake until the panko crumb topping is crisp and sauce is bubbly, about 25 minutes (15 for individual). Cool for 10 minutes before eating.

I have to say this recipe had the right amount of sweet and spicy cheese, and the crust topping was amazing. I would recommend eating it immediately after cooling and maybe adding some Italian seasoning when boiling the pasta.”

Recipe source: Bon Appetit

Click HERE for the printable recipe.

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18 thoughts on “Ralphie’s Test Kitchen

  1. I have had this mac ‘n cheese on my mind since I got this issue. You just reminded me that I need to make is ASAP! cuz it looks amazing here.

  2. For a long time I hated mac & cheese. It always seemed so… insipid to me, possibly because most of the time it came from a box. This looks tasty and creative – a very fun take on a dish that is often overlooked as “kids’ meal” food.

  3. This is on my list of dishes to make! The second I got that Bon Appetit in the mail, I started drooling 🙂 Yours looks just as delicious!!

  4. Even though I’ve never quite understood the southern concept of pimento cheese, I love some peppedew peppers and imagine they would be delicious in mac & cheese and strike the perfect balance with the richness of the dairy.

  5. Now this is the kind of resolution i like hearing about! I’ve been wanting to make that mac and cheese since I got the issue! Glad it was a hit!

  6. Ooh, I’ve been thinking about making this but wasn’t too sure about the pimentos. I love the idea of using peppadews instead!

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