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If you’re like me, you appreciate the basics done well. There’s a reason macaroni and cheese has been a staple in the world’s finest steakhouses. Because it’s awesome. What can you possibly do to improve on a classic, you might ask? How about using 5 cheeses instead of one? Still not convinced? How about adding some bacon and a splash of maple syrup?
To begin, you’ll need a large cast iron pan, a dutch oven or a good sized casserole dish. Start by browning about a 1/2 pound of bacon. Once it’s cooked, remove the bacon from the pan and drain most of the fat from the pan. You’re going to use some of the remaining fat to grease the pan or dish.
Next, cook your macaroni. Because you’re going to be baking the macaroni, you don’t want to cook it completely. You’ll want to stop cooking it a minute or 2 before it even reaches el dente doneness. Once it’s cooked, rinse and drain, then throw 1/3 of a stick of butter in the pot with the macaroni, let it melt, stir and cool a little.
Next comes the cheese. You’ll want to grate a block of old cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Swiss (approximately 300 gram blocks of each). Then, chop that bacon up. Now it’s time to make layers. On the bottom of the well greased pan or dish, add the first layer of macaroni. Next add a layer of Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss cheese and chopped bacon. Add a sprinkling of dried basil, and a sprinkling of paprika. If you like to have a little heat, a sprinkling of cayenne pepper is an option here too. Repeat this step until you have 2-3 layers (until you run out of macaroni or room in the pan). On the top layer, add a thin layer of Parmesan and shredded Romano.
Next, in a blender, you’ll want to combine 3 cups of whole milk, 4 eggs, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Blend this for about 45 seconds and pour it into the pan. When you’re pouring it into the pan, just slowly pour into one spot as to not mess up your cheese layer. Trust me, the liquid will find where it needs to be. You'll want to pour until you can see it reaching the sides of the pan. Be sure to leave about 1/2” of room between this liquid and the top of the pan (to avoid a messy oven).
Cover and put it in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 30 minutes or until the top becomes nicely browned.
Let it stand for 10 - 15 minutes, serve and enjoy!
Ingredients: 1 box of elbow macaroni
1 block of old cheddar cheese
1 block of Monterey Jack cheese
1 block of Swiss cheese
1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of shredded Romano
1/2 lb bacon
pinch of dried basil
pinch of paprika
3 cups of whole milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)