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Pointy pasta, chili powder pep up mac and cheese

By Betty Shimabukuro

LAST UPDATED: 01:38 p.m. HST, Dec 19, 2013

Betty Shimabukuro / bshimabukuro@staradvertiser.comThree types of cheese, penne pasta and chili pepper make Beecher's Mac & Cheese distinctive.

It is my job to taste food. Presented with something succulent, I will consider the cholesterol content, then eat it no matter what. It is my sacred duty. Then sometimes I figure out how to make it and put it in front of other people, who then must do their own weighing of cholesterol versus succulence.

That's the deal with today's recipe, which is pretty much a fat bomb but oh, so worth it. I discovered it on my vacation in Seattle, while tasting an unseemly amount of food, but that is my job, I believe I mentioned.

The family and I took a tour of Pike Place Market, which involved the brave consumption of something like 12 small servings of food over a couple of hours while absorbing the history of the market.

The highlights: clam chowder from Pike Place Chowder, crab cakes from Etta's Seafood Restaurant (owned by Seattle celebrity chef Tom Doug­las) and the macaroni and cheese from Beecher's Handmade Cheese. The chowder recipe is a secret, and the crab cakes are expensive and fussy to re-create. But the mac and cheese — warm, chewy and gooey — is straightforward, and the recipe is conveniently posted on the Beecher's website.

Some adjustments were in order. For example, the recipe calls for Beecher's Flagship cheese, which I learned on our food tour is a cheddar blended with Gruyere, a Swiss cheese. To approximate the flavor, you want a good white cheddar and a block of Gruyere to mix in. Both are found in most supermarkets, as is Jack cheese, a softer cheese added for creaminess. If you're feeding a crowd, double the recipe and consider Costco for bigger blocks of cheese.

This mac and cheese is made with penne — tube-shaped pasta with pointed ends, not the usual elbow macaroni — and a dose of chipotle chili powder for oomph. Both these things make the dish distinctive.

OK, so it's not health food. But make it. Eat a small amount with a big salad. Moderation makes all things practical.

Oh, and if you're going to be in Seattle, the Pike Place tour can be booked through Savor Seattle (savorseattletours.com or 206-209-5485). It costs about $40, but you'll eat enough to cover breakfast and lunch.


6 ounces penne pasta (about 3 cups)
1 ounce white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1/3 cup)
1 ounce Jack cheese, shredded (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
» Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3-1/2 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups whole milk
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1-1/3 cup)
3 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
1 ounce Jack cheese, shredded (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
Pinch garlic powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add penne and cook about 2 minutes less than package directions specify. Rinse in cold water and drain.


Visit Williams Sonoma’s artisan market Saturday and peruse a variety of locally produced items. The market, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the store in Ala Moana Center, will feature Adobo?loco hot sauce; Kau coffee, macadamia nuts and honey from Paradise Meadows; scones by Mama’Nita; Manoa Chocolate products; beef jerky chips from Kaimuki Grill; and Hawaiian Nougat. Call 951-0088.

To prepare sauce: Melt butter in skillet over medium heat; whisk in flour. Cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in milk, then cook until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt, chili and garlic powders. Stir until smooth.

Stir pasta into skillet until well coated with sauce. Pour into an 8-inch round baking dish or casserole (will also fit in 9-inch square cake pan). Sprinkle top with additional cheeses and chili powder. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes, until top is beginning to brown. Let stand 5 minutes. Serves 6 as side dish.

Note: To double the recipe, bake in a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 380 calories, 22 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 450 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 19 g protein


Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Send requests to "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Email bshimabukuro@staradvertiser.com.

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