What can be better then Mac and Cheese except maybe Mac and Cheese made with beer and bacon? The Brits have a dish called Welsh Rarebit which is a beer and cheese sauce usually served over toast and broiled until the sauce is nicely browned and bubbling. In my research I have found other trailblazers that have had this same idea but in the spirit of making it my own, I am adding my own home cured bacon to put it over the top. I love to add a topping made with panko, crushed Ritz cracker, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. I have made uncured bacon for this recipe (made without curing salt) to speed up the process but you can substitute any dry cured bacon even unsmoked if you want.
Home Uncured Bacon
3 pounds pork belly
3 Tbsps. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. ground thyme
Welsh Rarebit Mac and Cheese
1 cup Newcastle brown ale (or another brown ale)
2 cups milk
4 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup finely diced red pepper
1 cup finely diced onion
1 deseeded finely diced jalapeno
2 Tbsp. dry mustard
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup coastal cheddar cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup diced Velveeta cheese
1 pound of pasta
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1. Rub the pork belly with all the ingredient and seal in a Ziplock bag and refrigerate overnight. Smoke the pork belly on low heat for at least 4 hours. Heat in a 275 degree oven for one hour until browned.
2. Melt the 3 Tbsp. of the butter in a large sauce pan and whisk in the flour to create a roux. Add the dry mustard then the Worcestershire sauce, beer and milk to a soupy consistency. Gradually add the cheeses slowly so they melt slowly and season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the pasta to boiling salted water and cook until almost done.
4. On medium heat, in a separate pan melt the remaining butter and add the peppers and onions stirring until the onions are translucent. Add to the cheese sauce. Spray with cooking spray or butter a oven safe dish and add the pasta then the cheese sauce. The mixture should be soupy so stir in more milk if needed. Mix the topping ingredients and cover the mixture. Bake in a 350 oven for 30 to 40 minutes and let cool a bit before serving.
Poutine is a French Canadian dish that features French fries topped with cheese curds and covered with a dark gravy. Recovering from my back surgery, I have been eating out more lately and that means more leftovers. What can you do with leftover French fries? Why not cut them up and use them for hash browns? Why stop there, lets make a southern version of poutine. First let us make a great sausage gravy to add to our cheese curds topping our "French fry" hash browns.
2 pounds good quality pork sausage
1 large sweet onion finely diced
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. dried thyme or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 pinch red pepper flakes
Hot sauce to taste
2 cups whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
fresh cheese curds
leftover French fries
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. When the pan is hot, skin and break up the sausage into small pieces, season with salt and cook until brown and most of the fat has rendered out into the pan. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent. Add the thyme and red pepper flakes and continue to cook until the onions just start to brown. Whisk in the flour and stir until fully mixed. This is in fact a roux. I need to continue to stir until the raw flour taste is gone which should take a minute. Continue to whisk and slowly add the milk. I now will increase the heat to medium high, stirring frequently, then when the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture thickens. Now is the time to season with salt and pepper to taste, and to add the hot sauce to achieve the heat you want. Keep warm until needed.
Dice the leftover fries into small squares and add to a preheated cast iron skillet on medium heat. Fry until crisp and plate. Sprinkle with cheese curds and cover with warm gravy. Serve immediately and enjoy with your favorite eggs.
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How does a good chef think? What is the creative process a
chef uses to come up with new and exciting dishes? What do I need to know to enable that creative process? These are the questions I want to explore in this series of articles. As a chef and an avid cookbook collector I am drawn towards
ideas and techniques of cooking rather than just a collection of recipes. I believe to grow as a chef, I need to continually learn and hone new techniques along with perfecting each technique I use every day. Whenever I go to a restaurant, whether fine dining, neighborhood pub, avant garde, or even fast food, I continually ask myself how can I do this better, what works and more important, what doesn’t? Feel free to send me comments, ask questions. Together, we can explore and make creative cuisine.
Spending almost thirty years in the computing field, I was able to travel experiencing a wide variety of tremendous cuisine. First I became a foodie, and when the opportunity arose, I was able to attend culinary school following my passion. I work as a part-time private chef and volunteer time at the community café in North Bend Oregon providing affordable meals in a restaurant setting to my community.