Pinoy Style Mac and Cheese
I love this version of mac and cheese. Well, it’s a bit different because we don’t have the usual 3 to 5 types of cheeses that Americans love to add to their mac and cheese recipe. Mine is the Pinay-next-door version simply because I use local cheese that we usually find in the supermarket or our friendly mini grocery next door.
Nothing too extravagant and over the top when it comes to this version of mac and cheese. But you may find it weird or unusual because of the addition of spiced ham, herbs, garlic and it’s cooked on stove-top.
Here are the ingredients:
Elbow macaroni, cooked al dente
diced spiced ham
local cheese (I use the inexpensive brands like Eden, Queso, or Pan de Manila cheddar)
skim milk, about 1/4 cup or less (use it just to add a little more flavor and to lighten this dense pasta dish)
chopped fresh oregano (you may use dried; may be used together with basil or on its own)
basil leaves (freshly chopped or dried; may be used together with oregano or on its own)
salt and black pepper to taste
chicken or pork bouillon cube for added flavor (use a pea-sized portion if you are going to cook just for yourself ‘coz it’s too salty)
olive oil (extra virgin, optional) and/or a nub of butter (if you want it tastier)
Cook the macaroni according to the package or al dente [to the bite]. Set aside.
Use medium to low flame.
In a non-stick pan, heat the nub of butter with about a teaspoon of olive oil. Fry the herbs in a few seconds before adding the bouillon and minced garlic. Do not brown the garlic, just wait for it to change to a light golden brown tinge before adding the spiced ham. Fry for a few seconds.
Add the cooked macaroni. Add salt and pepper, and toss the pasta for about a minute just to coat it with oil and flavorings. Add the skim milk and warm through. If the liquid is simmering, add the grated or chopped up cheese. Cook the mac and cheese until the liquid milk evaporates and the cheese already melted.
If the cheese is still not melted, add a little more skim milk or hot water. Wait for the liquid to evaporate and the cheese already melted before turning off the stove.
Serve warm with a piece of toasted bread or as is. I hope you’ll enjoy this dish as much as I do. (Experiment with the herbs and garlic. If you don’t like garlic, remove it completely.)
Try this at home and tell me what you think.