Friday, January 7, 2011

January 7: Tex-Mex Mac-n-Cheddar with Beef and Peppers

       Coarse salt
1/2 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi (corkscrew-shaped pasta)
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus a drizzle
   1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
       Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound ground sirloin
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into thin strips

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Preheat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of EVOO and the beef. Brown the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
 Add the peppers and cook together for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
While the beef and peppers cook, heat a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add the EVOO and heat with the butter until it melts. Add the onions and cook for 3 to 5 minutes to sweat them out and turn the juices sweet. Raise the heat a bit, then whisk in the flour, cayenne, and paprika.
Whisk together until the roux bubbles up, then cook for 1 minute more. Whisk in the milk and stock and raise the heat a bit higher to bring the sauce to a quick boil.

Once it bubbles, drop the heat back to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add salt to season the cooking water, then add the pasta. Cook for 8 minutes or until the pasta is cooked al dente.
Drain well and return to the pot.
 Add the cheese to the thickened sauce and stir to melt it, a minute or so. Stir in the mustard and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Pour over the cooked pasta and toss to combine.

Fold in the beef and bell peppers.

Adjust the seasonings, transfer to a large platter, and serve (or serve it straight from the pot).


This recipe is halved from the original. She says it's 4 servings, but we could have fed four easily from the halved recipe. The only other thing I changed about it, besides typing it all out, was to put it in an order that works well with the different pans going on the stove. This is what my stove looked like:
It was a lot going on.

I am a big fan of vegetables, so I would actually use a whole pepper instead of half. But my husband doesn't like them, so he picks them out and gives them to me. Overall, I really like the taste of the sweetness of the peppers with the homeyness of the beef and mac-n-cheese. It's a winner in my book.


  1. I would love to taste this! Your pictures look very nice. You could improve the look of the photos by making sure that the stove-top is clean and free of crumbs & such.

  2. Ok, I'll clean the stove, but that's not the point.

  3. Not trying to tear things down . . . Just hoping your photos will look GRRRRRREAT!