Hawaiian Baked Mac + Cheese
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
I am one of the few in the world that really, really like Hawaiian pizza. And, I'm not talking about sad Hawaiian pizza with boiled weird ham and chewy pineapples over a thin soggy a$% crust. I want good sturdy crust with crispy, gooey toppings and you should stand up for that too.
I also believe you should stand up for this mac + cheese because it's packed with flavor, super easy to follow and just like almost anything can go on a pizza, anything can go in mac + cheese right? Right.
You will need:
1 box of pasta. I like cavatappi, small shells will work, elbow noodles, penne, whatever you want, just cook it to al dente okay?
ALL. THE. CHEESE. You know I'm going to say American, because its so unloved but I don't care it makes good melty cheese and you can't change my mind. Use 10+ slices, depending on the amount of cheesy your choice produces, 5 cups of shredded cheddar/jack, 5+ slices of Swiss cheese. Listen, people love velveeta, I love velveeta, but it gets stuck to all my kitchen shit and I hate that, so I omit it, but if you love it, use it man. Just use it, I won't judge you.
A ham steak. So far in life Fricks has been my favorite but I'm sure we all have our personal choices, whatever you choose, you need at least 3 CUPS, cooked with a little char from the pan. Dice them up into bite sized chunks.
Fresh or canned pineapple but fresh is better and you know it. Slice the skin, core the middle thing, dice into triangle looking chunks found in the canned, less good option, but use it if you have to. Five slices diced or 1 can, drained.
5 TBSP flour, 1 stick of salted butter, 5 CUPS milk.
1 TSP garlic powder, 1 TSP salt + pepper (to taste, know your taste), and 1/4 TSP cayenne
1 CUP panko bread crumbs mixed with any kind of dry herb blend, my go-to is Italian, premixed.
3 TBSP of butter
Let's do it:
Make the roux. Melt your butter on MEDIUM in a deep sauce pot, one that you would boil noodles in, or a stir fry pan, or a dutch oven.
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
Slowly whisk in the flour, 1 TBSP at a time, until completely added then let it cook for 2 minutes to cook out the flour taste.
You can use whatever milk you want, I think whole milk is the best. There are ways to create a "whole style" milk if you generally keep 1% and 2% on hand. Mix it with cream or half & half. We have 5 CUPS, I suggest to cut the 1% half way with the half & half or cream, 2% has more fat content, do 4 CUPS milk, and 1 CUP cream or half & half. Add it in cup by cup whisking the entire time.
Add in salt, pepper, garlic and cayenne. Whisk.
Add. all. the. cheese. Not all at once, be gentle about it. A cup at a time, a handful of broken slices at a time. Ditch your whisk and grab a spatula or a spoon for the rest of the mixing.
Once the cheeses are blended add in the cooked pasta, take it slow so you can mix easier.
In a separate smaller pan, melt the butter on MEDIUM and toss the panko crumbs in just to coat them with butter, barely golden.
Once all your mac is mixed into the cheesed your bread crumbs are started, toss in some diced ham and pineapple and mix it so it's nice and blended. I save some for the top as a "sprinkle" to get a little char with the breadcrumb topping.
If your dish to mix was not oven safe, transfer to something oven safe and top with a few pieces of ham and pineapple, then finally the lightly toasted bread crumbs. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the breadcrumb topping is golden brown.
Devour that immediately and enjoy! xo