Friday, March 9, 2012

Broccoli and Ham Macaroni and Cheese

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner and my mind is thinking about all things green and gold.  I would love to find a pot of gold, but this delicious macaroni and cheese would make a great consolation prize.  I actually made this dinner twice this week. Yes, that's how much my family loved this meal. The first time I made it I did not add the ham, so if you're not into meat or ham... feel free to leave it out.  The macaroni and cheese with the gorgeous broccoli stands on it's own and is completely satisfying.  Even my picky eater asked for seconds so this is definitely kid tested and approved. The best part is the meal comes together quickly and that's enough for this mother to do a little Irish Jig.


1lb of pasta cooked shy by 1-2 minutes of fully cooked ( use penne, fusilli, shell, elbow)
1lb of broccoli florets steamed until tender enough to mash
2 cups of grated cheddar cheese (divided)
2-3 Tbs of butter or margarine
1Tbs of canola oil
red chili flakes to taste
2-3 cloves of garlic grated
2-3 Tbs of all purpose flour
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup of chicken stock (or substitute starchy cooking water from pasta)
1 cup of milk (I used 2%)
1/2lb of diced ham (see note)
1 shallot or small onion sliced (optional)

On medium-low heat add  butter and oil into the pan with the grated garlic and shallot.  Allow to cook gently for 1-2 minutes.  Then add the chili flakes and flour to make a roux.  Cook the roux for another minute while stirring.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the milk and chicken broth or pasta water. Stir roux well with the liquid until smooth.  Then add 1 1/2 cups of cheese and stir until fully melted. Season with salt and pepper. Add the steamed broccoli and mash with a potato masher.
If you want to use ham, dice it up. I wanted to give my ham some caramelization so I sauteed it with a tsp of canola oil in a separate pan.
Note: I bought the ham from the deli and asked for it to be cut into three thick slices so I could dice it.

 Add the cooked macaroni and ham to the broccoli cheese sauce. Mix well. Taste for seasoning and if you want to stop at the stove top method, finish with your extra cheese and serve immediately.
 If you decide to take it to the next level and bake it in the oven, place the macaroni and cheese mixture  into a butter or sprayed baking dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until the cheese melts. Serve hot. Enjoy.

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