While Food Network Chef George Duran, host of TLC’s “The Ultimate Cake Off,” recently hawked a caldero pan on HSN that does, actually look pretty cool he offered an irresistable recipe that might have made me buy the thing.
But you don’t really need a caldero to make it.
Some might argue there are significant differences, but I’m pretty sure you can get by with any oven-safe Dutch oven or even a casserole, when making Duran’s grown-up version of this Lenten-meal-soul-food-comfort-food-iconic-American-food.
I’m trying to figure out how to convert to catholicism in order to have an excuse to make it.
FIREY TOMATO-BASIL MAC & CHEESE
1 pound macaroni (elbow)
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 cup packed fresh basil, chopped
1 stick butter
½ cup flour
5 cups whole milk
4 cups sharp cheddar, grated
1 1/2 cup Italian Style breadcrumbs
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Basil leaves for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add salt to taste. Then, add macaroni and stir gently allowing it boil for about 7 minutes until “al dente”. Remove from heat and drain well and place in an extra large bowl.
3. Add both cans of diced tomatoes and chopped basil and mix with a rubber spatula. Set aside.
4. For béchamel sauce start by making a roux in a medium stock pot. Melt butter under medium heat and whisk in flour. Keep whisking for under medium heat until roux is browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add 2 teasponons salt. Gently whisk in the milk until properly combined. Constantly whisk the sauce until it thickens and begins to simmer, about 10 to 12 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and add 4 cups of cheddar. Gently mix it with a rubber spatula until completely melted.
6. Combine cheese sauce and macaroni and pour into a caldero (cast iron pot or Dutch oven, or oven-safe saucepan). Make topping by combining all of the ingredients and spread it evenly on top of mac and cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes until top is golden brown.
Serve and garnish with basil.
– George Duran