I’ve been very slowly settling in to my apartment. I say very because things are still in boxes and those items I have put away have yet to become familiar enough to find easily. Because of this, I’ve been making simple food that doesn’t send me in search of odd gadgets. This means taking some of my favorite recipes and streamlining the preparation or ingredients.
One such recipe is my Cuban-Inspired Mac & Cheese. My original recipe called for a combination of homemade roast pork and cooked ham, but I eliminated the former to save on time and reduce complication. Paired with a mustard and Chile Crunch spiked Swiss cheese sauce and diced pickles it was a delicious pasta-based interpretation of one of my favorite sandwiches. When I have time, I love the complexity that the roast pork adds to the original, but this one is far more practical as a week night meal.
-1/2 pound dry pasta, medium shells preferred
-4 tablespoons butter, cubed
-2 eggs, lightly beaten
-One 5-ounce can evaporated milk
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
-Fresh black pepper to taste
-1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1 teaspoon Chile Crunch*
- 8 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (approximately 2 cups)
-10 ounces smoked ham, cubed (Preferably, ask for single piece that weighs 10 ounces at your deli counter – it makes for more substantial cubes of ham than thin slices.)
-1 cup pickles, drained of excess liquid and diced
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, mustard, cayenne, and Chile Crunch. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy. Fold in pickles and ham.
*Chile Crunch is a Mexican-inspired condiment that’s a mix of onions, garlic, and dried chiles. I discovered it when I received it as a free sample from Foodzie and now I’m in love. It adds a punch of flavor so it’s great for when you’re cooking with only a few ingredients because every flavor has to count. I’ve also been using it to perk up soups and flavor scrambled eggs.