Jamaican Mac and Cheese?
Do We Make it Differently?
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Jamaican Mac and Cheese | Image source: insearchofyummyness.com
by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer
Did you see our Jamaican Jerk Turkey recipe? Well, it got me thinking, what else do we usually reserve for Christmas time here in Jamaica, one of the first things that came to my mind was Macaroni and Cheese.
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I know across the world mac and cheese, whether in its boxed or delicious homemade form is a staple dish throughout the year. We have it too, the boxed version is especially popular with the kids (add if the adults are ready to be honest, we love it just as much).
That, we prepare quite often, adding or own seasonings and curating it to our taste. Chicken frankfurters are a popular addition for a quick lunch or midweek dinner that will leave everyone satisfied.
Now, when would we make baked mac and cheese? That is saved for special dinners. You know; Christmas, New Years or family reunions. That’s when we pull out all the stops and add our baked macaroni and cheese to the menu.
I am no macaroni and cheese expert, I can’t even have more than a bite or two. And.. since it is not a dish that we prepare quite often here in Jamaica, I can’t say for sure that there is a Jamaican way to do it, or if our way is any different from those around the world.
What I can guarantee you though is a tasty baked macaroni and cheese dish (or macaroni and cheese pie if you wish) if you try this recipe. This is how I, alongside everyone else that I know make it.
I like my macaroni and cheese simple, what I want to taste more than anything else is the cheese. So in this recipe, you will find no onion powder or garlic powder. And I know you saw the title Jamaican Mac and Cheese and probably thought this recipe would have some jerk seasoning and scotch bonnet peppers as well, but no.
This is just plain Mac and cheese, the way I like it, but you can use it as a guide and go ahead and add any additional spices and flavourings that you would enjoy. Bacon would be a great addition too.
Jamaican Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 2 cups elbow macaroni
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1 - Cook the Macaroni:
Let's start by boiling the elbow macaroni until it reaches that perfect al dente stage. We want it just right – not too soft, not too firm.
Step 2 - Craft the Cheese Sauce:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour until you've got a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the milk to keep things lump-free. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens. Now, add the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, stirring until you've got a velvety cheese sauce.
Step 3 - Simple Seasoning:
We're keeping it simple. Season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust it to your liking – we're aiming for that perfect balance.
Step 4 - Mix and Bake:
Combine the cooked macaroni with the cheese sauce, making sure each pasta piece is luxuriously coated. Transfer this cheesy goodness into a baking dish, and sprinkle more cheese that golden, crispy finish.
Step 5 - Bake to Golden Glory:
Pop it into the oven preheated to 350°F (175°C) for about 25-30 minutes, or until the top is beautifully golden brown. Your kitchen will be filled with an irresistible aroma – that's when you know it's ready to rock.
Step 6 - Serve and Savor:
Let it cool for a tad (if you can resist), then dish out a generous portion and savour every mouthful.
I like my Mac and cheese straight out of the oven when it is still a bit loose and gooey but so many people I know preferred for theirs to cool and set.
That way, it becomes much like a pie that you can really slice into, which is actually the popular Caribbean way to may your Mac and Cheese or Macaroni Pie.
There are not a lot of flavours going on with this dish which is what makes it awesome, it is just simple ooey gooey mac and cheese and that is what makes it perfect.
How do you make your Mac and cheese? Give ours a try and tell us what you think.
Also, don't forget to grab a copy of our ebook, Jamaican Sweet Treats, for some mouthwatering local dessert recipes.
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References & Sources For Jamaican Mac and Cheese?
- 60 Jamaican Foods: Our favourite dishes on the Island (no date) My Island Jamaica. Available at: https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamaican_foods.html (Accessed: 23 November 2023).
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