Gooey Baked Mac & Cheese

with chorizo & peppers

It’s Tuesday. Do you guys know that that means? It means that Kramer and I are headed off to Thailand on Thursday! I can’t believe it. I haven’t been on a family vacation since…hmm. Let’s think. My uncle got married in 2009, so I suppose that was the last family vacation I went on where all five of us (plus Kramer) were in the same place at the same time. Before that, I don’t even know. It may have been a trip to Germany and Prague when I was 17. So it’s either been 5 years or 7 years. I’ll say 7 because my uncle’s wedding in Canada in 2009, while fun, was short and we were prompted to go rather than making it into a big vacation (although it was fun and Canada is beautiful). Either way, Kramer and I leave on Thursday and will be meeting up with both of my brothers and my parents in Koh Samui for a week of fun in the sun. I know that a lot of people say that it is the most touristy part of Thailand, blah blah blah, but you know what? I just want to lay on the beach, eat good food, get fat and tan, and get drinks with little umbrellas in them. That’s all I want. I don’t want adventure. I may go snorkling. That’s as far as I want to go. Maybe a day trip into the closest town. For the most part, though, I just want to sit in the sand and relax. It’s chilly and rainy and gross here in New York, but right now it is sunny and 85 degrees in Thailand. I can’t wait. I can almost taste the shrimp, papaya salad, peanuts and coconuts now. Perhaps I’ll even get KrAzY and do some yoga on the beach. My parents are really into yoga now and I will probably be falling over, sweating and grunting, while they gracefully move from chaturanga to upward dog to downward dog with no problems. Whatever, Mom and Dad, so you’re good at yoga? I’ll have a few cocktails and meet you for yoga – we’ll see who has more fun. Agh! I am so excited. Thursday can’t get here soon enough. If anyone has any restaurant recommendations or foods to be on the look-out for, please let me know! I do not, however, have the desire to seek out any kinds of animals or do anything too physically exerting. This trip is about rest and relaxation and maybe going from the usual sheet white skin tone I am to a nice, beachy beige.

Gooey Baked Mac & CheeseThe delightful look of pure terror on Morgan’s face when we yelled “Surprise!”

This past weekend, my friend Morgan’s girlfriend, Robyn, threw together a really awesome, spur of the moment surprise party for him. She made masks of his face, put pictures of him all over the apartment, got balloons and banners…it was quite the surprise! I think Morgan almost died when he walked into his apartment. We all hid on the stairs, with masks and noisemakers, turned the lights out, and waited for him to walk in and flip on the lights. Of course, we screamed SURPRISE! and he, in returned, screamed as though his life was about to be taken from him. It was awesome. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as scaring your friend half to death, is there? I think not. I made a four-layer tiramisu cake, which turned into an hours-long ordeal of the the cake being lopsided, too heavy with all of the stuff I put on it, etc. There was a 30 minute long period where I sat next to Kramer, Googling ways to fix a lopsided cake, thinking about just throwing it away, blah blah blah, until I decided at 5pm to make lady fingers to hold it together and disguise its lopsidedness. It worked, thankfully, and the cake turned out really well! I’m sure you’ve all been there. Spending hours on something that didn’t turn out absolutely perfect is basically the equivalent of going through a painful life experience. You immediately just go completely crazy for an hour or so. But sometimes going crazy helps you to come up with the life-saving solution you need (i.e. lady fingers).

Gooey Baked Mac & Cheese

I made this macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving this past year, then again for a New Years Eve party at my friends Emily and Wesley’s apartment a few weeks ago. Simply put, it is awesome. I found it on the New York Times Thanksgiving Essentials post and honestly, I’m never making another mac and cheese again. The cottage cheese melts into a lovely, creamy sauce, the rest of the cheese is gooey and rich, and best of all, you don’t have to boil the noodles separately. You just add the uncooked shells to the dish along with the rest of the ingredients, and boom! Delicious, gooey macaroni and cheese. I added chorizo and roasted peppers to this round of mac and cheese, but you can doctor it up however you like or keep it simple without adding anything extra. I did bacon and roasted hatch chiles for Thanksgiving, and I think any combination of added delicousness would only make this dish better. You could do ground turkey for a healthier, hearty mac and cheese, or maybe some roasted zucchini or eggplant for a fancy vegetarian option. All I know is that it will be devoured by the end of the night, even if guests are scraping out the last bits of cold mac and cheese with a spoon in one hand and a drink in the other (I watched it happen). There’s no better sight to a cook than that, is there?

Gooey Baked Mac & CheeseWe hid in the dark, as you can see by his face.

Gooey Baked Mac & CheeseHis girlfriend, Robyn, made masks of his own face for us to use. This is the creepiest photo ever, right?

Gooey Baked Mac & CheeseRobyn, the birthday boy and Matt.

Gooey Baked Mac & CheeseGooey Baked Mac & CheeseGooey Baked Mac & CheeseI made a tiramisu cake, which was a long, harrowing process resulting in my not wanting to photograph it because I just didn’t have the energy. It was good, though!

Gooey Baked Mac & CheeseGooey Baked Mac & CheeseGooey Baked Mac & CheeseFour layers of coffee bean studded vanilla cake, marscapone frosting, chopped chocolate and lots of espresso syrup. I ended up making the lady fingers as a last minute attempt to give the gave some structural integrity.

Gooey Baked Mac & CheeseFirst and foremost, roast your peppers, chop them and set aside.

Gooey Baked Mac & CheeseAdd them to your cheese mixture, along with your chorizo and pasta shells.

Gooey Baked Mac & CheesePour everything into your prepared dish, then bake, covered, for 40 minutes before uncovering, topping with more cheese, and baking for an additional 40 minutes.

Gooey Baked Mac & CheeseThe result? Ooey, gooey cheesy goodness.

Gooey Baked Mac & Cheese

Gooey Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
Gooey, creamy baked macaroni and cheese with chorizo and roasted peppers, all made in the same dish - no need to boil the pasta separately!
  • 1 pound ground chorizo sausage
  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 5 serrano peppers (you can use any combination of peppers and any amount, depending on your heat preference)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups full-fat cottage cheese
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3 teaspoons dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds (32 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used a combination of 25% Comté, a kind of Gruyère, and 75% sharp cheddar - just make sure you are using something firm enough to grate and don't go too crazy - the cheeses shouldn't be too pungent)
  • 1 pound pasta shells or elbows
  1. Heat your oven to 500 degrees F. Place your peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast the peppers for 15-20 minutes or so, turning frequently so that all sides are roasted, until blackened. Reduce the heat on your oven to 375 degrees F, then place the roasted peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (this helps the skins to be removed). Set aside.
  2. In a large pan, cook your chorizo until no longer pink, breaking apart with a wooden spoon as you go. When cooked, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. When your peppers are cool enough to handle, remove them from the bowl, use your fingers to pop the stems off, remove any excess seeds (but some seeds are fine), and peel off the skins. Chop finely, then add to the cooked chorizo and set aside.
  4. Use 2 tablespoons of butter to grease your 9x13-inch dish very well and set aside.
  5. In a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender, blend together the cottage cheese, milk, dried mustard, paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Set aside. Grate your cheese, and put aside ¾ cup of your cheese for topping the dish later.
  6. Add all but ¾ cup of your grated cheese to a big bowl with the cottage cheese mixture, then add in your pasta shells. Add in your chorizo and peppers. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into your buttered baking dish, cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  7. Uncover your dish after 40 minutes and sprinkle with the ¾ cup reserved grated cheese, then dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cubed butter. Bake again, uncovered, for another 40 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Allow the macaroni and cheese to cool and set a bit for 10-15 minutes before serving.


21 Responses

  1. Jenny K. says:

    Three things:
    1) That mac & cheese looks DELICIOUS.
    2) Yes, the masks are particularly creepy.
    3) The boys over at The Bitten Word posted, just yesterday, the best things they ate in Thailand. Have a great trip!

  2. RK says:

    Looking forward to hearing about your trip! I used to go to Koh Samui in the mid-nineties while I was living overseas. At that time it was much less “touristy” than going to Phuket. Such an amazing place….have fun!!

  3. yay for trip post! I love to hear your travels and adventures. I am sad but that you did not document that cake because it looks as good as that mac and cheese! OMG>…< I want a piece and it is midnight here!

  4. Hahaha the look on your friend’s face is fantastic. He looks legitimately scared. Surprise party = success

    I made two birthday cakes once for the “office birthdays” day we have each month. It was a painful experience as my meringue cake was a complete disaster. I had such a stomachache that day! From the pressure! And the SUGAR. Your cake looks absolutely beautiful in the end and you didn’t mention how much everyone loved it, but I am positive that they did!

    This mac and cheese sounds heavenly. Not to mention the ease of not even needing to par-boil the pasta! Great recipe… love the chiles

  5. I love how you saved the cake with lady fingers! I am so hard on myself when a recipe doesn’t go my way, that I probably would have just thrown the cake out. Your solution was so much better!

  6. Such a fabulous looking party! That cake and this gooey mac and cheese is KILLING ME!

  7. Zoe says:

    The tiramisu cake looks so good! Do you mind posting the link to the recipe?

  8. CakePants says:

    Wow, you really don’t even have to cook the noodle before baking? Awesome! Also awesome is that tiramisu cake – it’s beautiful!

  9. World Cup of Food says:

    We have recently started using one of our local Mexican groceries to get chorizo from their meat counter. It makes all the difference. All we have in our supermarkets are that ridiculously greasy kind with the plastic casing. The stuff from the Mexican market is the Empire to the supermarket variety’s Phantom Menace.

    • Thai says:

      I find that the best tasting chorizo is from the brand Palacios. These are made in Spain and my in-laws, also from Spain, won’t eat anything else.

  10. Sasha says:

    Drunk yoga in Thailand sounds like a blast! Have a great time 😀

  11. Oh my good god I wish I could still eat cheese because that looks like everything I’ve ever wanted in my mouth. Your idea of a vacation sounds awesome. Little umbrellas? Yes please. Although yoga on the beach sounds like a nightmare. Sandy hands, not able to find your balance in the sand, getting sand in your eyes from raising your hands or feet or butt or whatever body part that was once in the sand and now above your face resulting in THE WORST FEELING EVER.
    Basically I hate sand.
    But enjoy Thailand! Eat ALL THE FOOD. Well, just don’t get sick. But eat all the fruit. I always eat my heart out whenever I go back to Vietnam. Omnomnom mango, dragonfruit, mangosteen, rambutan…
    Also that photo of Matt being scared out of his wits is priceless. Kudos on capturing such a great moment.
    Sorry for the longest comment ever.
    Also shared this on my blog’s FB page (scheduled for 8).
    You’re amazing!

  12. Have the best time in Thailand and enjoy the sunshine! The cake looks awesome with the lady fingers and it’s so cool you don’t have to precook the noodles in this macaroni and cheese.

  13. Lauren says:

    totally off topic but I was thinking what makes a truely great granola, I like the ones that whole foods uses in their fruit parfaits and I love a little coconut added when I have an acai bowl but ive never attempted to make my own- I want it not too nutty some is ok or chewy with dried fruits, something rich and a little sweet, crunchy and filling!

  14. Ahh this sounds amazing!! I LOVE macaroni cheese, and chorizo! definitely having a go at this next week 😀

  15. […] York straight from his home state of New Mexico, mind you), and I was able to use my bounty in a macaroni and cheese dish on Thanksgiving. Needless to say, it garnered rave […]

  16. […] It’s not Thanksgiving at my house without Gooey Baked Mac & Cheese. […]

  17. Ammara says:

    What temperature do i bake the mac n cheese? 375f?

  18. Lynn says:

    This was delicious but a little too spicy for us and way too spicy for the kids. Next time I’ll make it with green bell pepper and less cayenne.

  19. Kim Garrison says:

    I just tried this recipe and thought it was delicious but my sauce separated. Any idea why?

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