This is the sort of version of mac and cheese where you say to yourself, "Why haven't I made this before?". (or perhaps that was just me!). This delicious combination of two crowd favourites: nachos and mac and cheese feeds many and is akin to a big hug on a trying day.
Dear Reader, please don't be alarmed by the ingredients list. It is long I'll admit, but I'm guessing you already have most of it in your pantry. As a trade off for the long list, I made it enough to serve around 8 people so it worth the effort. I'd say it is as much effort as making a lasagna. That may mean that it's not ideal for a week night but ideal for a Sunday when you can make it to freeze for the week ahead.
Now that I've done my due diligence and warned you about the pros and cons I'm going to say forget all of that and give this a go. It freezes so well and tastes so fab. It really is half nachos and half mac and cheese in the best way. I made this enormous serving for Mr NQN as I was going away. I knew that he'd devour it greedily.
We also offered to give some of this to Garth as Nina has been away. What started off as a quick 4 day holiday to Bali to scout out a wedding venue turned into a couple of weeks due to the volcano ash cloud. She has found herself stuck on the island for an undetermined amount of time staying in a $20 a night hotel as she didn't have travel insurance.
Her absence meant I didn't have to work out at all while she was away (I mean I could have, but she's my motivation). I messaged her a warning, "Without training I am now a size XXXXL You'd better come back," to which she replied that she was now stress eating chocolate. Her return flight in five days' time was just cancelled and she was desperate to get home even so far as suggesting getting a boat and paddling.
I told her I'll have the food waiting.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you think you'd like a combo of nachos and mac and cheese? And have you ever been stranded anywhere?
Nachos Mac 'N Cheese
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
Serves approximately 8 people
- 500g/1.1lbs pasta shapes
- 2 onions, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 750g/26.5ozs. minced beef
- 600g/21.2ozs. tinned diced tomatoes
- 600g/21.2ozs. tinned kidney beans
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1-2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 50g/1.7ozs. butter
- 5 tablespoons plain all purpose flour
- 3 cups hot milk
- 3 cups grated tasty or cheddar cheese
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 30g/1oz. butter, cubed
- 1 large ripe avocado
- 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
- 2 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
- Lime juice and salt
- Corn chips, green onions and smoked paprika to serve
Step 1 - Have a 35x22cm (14x8.8inch) deep baking tray ready. Boil the pasta in plenty of boiling water for 6 minutes. While it is cooking, add oil to a very large pot and fry the onions until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add beef mince and use spatula to break it up. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato paste, chilli powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt and pepper and cook through the beef.
Step 2 - When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a sieve and then add the pasta to the pot with the beef (which should have finished cooking and you can take off the heat). I use the same saucepan that I used for the pasta to make the roux sauce. Melt the butter and then add the flour and cook for a minute. Slowly add the hot milk gradually, about half a cup at a time. Using a whisk helps now. Keep adding until you get a thick, smooth sauce. Add the cheddar cheese and half the parmesan and stir and thicken.
Step 3 - Preheat oven to 200C/400F. If you have room in the pot, mix the cheese sauce with the beef and pasta (you can also do this in a large bowl or even in the baking tray). Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs, remaining half of the parmesan cheese and butter cubes. Bake for 15 minutes.
Step 4 - Mash the avocado and mix with the onion, tomato and lime juice and season. Serve the mac and cheese with sour cream, corn chips and the guacamole. I also added some green onions and a final sprinkle of smoked paprika on top.