Can’t make it to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken for a mac & cheese and hot chicken fix? Or worse, you don’t live near a Hattie B’s? Breathe easy! Here is a home-cook-friendly version of this wildly popular side item. Says Hattie B’s Executive Chef John Lasater, “This is our version of a Southern classic, a favorite at meat-and-threes throughout the South. We add pimentos, the perfect complement to the extra sharp cheddar cheese. The secret to this delicious, creamy mac is the roux.” Enjoy!
- 1/2 gallon (2 qts.) milk
- 1.5 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 1.5 Tablespoons salt
- 1.5 teaspoons black pepper
- Combine all of these ingredients in a 4-5 quart stock pot and bring to a simmer … Do not boil or it may cause milk to scorch!
Ingredients for the Roux
- 1/2 pound butter
- 1/2 pound all-purpose flour
Note: It’s important to measure out ingredients for a roux – equals parts butter to flour.
- In a small sauce pot (1 qt.), melt all of the butter completely.
- Once butter is melted, add the flour all at once.
- Whisk to combine the ingredients into a smooth mixture.
- Simmer the roux for 5 minutes to make sure all of the raw flour is cooked out.
- Once it has simmered for five minutes, add all of the roux into the simmering milk mixture. Make sure the milk mixture is at a simmer so the roux makes an immediate bond. Whisk very well.
- You will see the sauce become thick. You want to simmer this entire mixture for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Tip: For a roux to hit its maximum thickening power, it must be simmered.
Ingredients to Finish
- 1.5 pounds plus 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese (the sharper the better), grated
- 1o oz. jar diced pimentos – “juice and all” or chop a roasted red pepper for maximum flavor
- 1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
Steps to finish sauce:
- Place the diced pimentos “juice and all” along with the 1.5 pounds of cheese and diced butter.
- Melt all of these ingredients completely.
- Turn flame off at this point so you don’t scorch cheese and give it a really good whisk. The more you whisk, the faster it will melt.
- Cool sauce down completely in a 3-quart storage container. This helps relax the gluten so it heats up beautifully.
- 1 pound elbow macaroni, uncooked
- Cook in salted boiling water until al dente (to the tooth), about 7-8 minutes for most pastas.
- Strain when finished. (Yields about 8 cups)
- Next, pre-heat over to 375 degrees.
Things you will need:
- 1-quart measuring vessel
- Rubber spatula
- 10 x 12 in. baking dish (1/2 hotel pan)
- Mixing bowl
- Mix your cheese and pasta – 2 qts. of cheese sauce to 2 qts. of cooked pasta.
- Place cooled cheese sauce in a mixing bowl along with the pasta.
- Mix until completely combined.
- Scrape the mixture out with the rubber spatula into baking vessel.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, covered. (This seems like a long time, but it will take 40 minutes for the cooled cheese sauce to properly get to temp.)
- Once your timer goes off, take mac out and give the whole pan a good stir with the rubber spatula.
- Smooth everything out and top with 1 cup of shredded cheese.
- Place the mac back in the oven, uncovered, for no more than 5 minutes; just to brown the cheese.
- Serve family style and enjoy!
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