Pimiento Mac 'n' Cheese

A short while ago my sweet friend Brenda, over at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen, pointed out her love of Rachel Ray's newest cookbook, Look + Cook.  After seeing all the great dishes that Brenda was cooking I decided to sneak a peek at the book myself.  I was really impressed with all the beautiful pictures, as well as all the fun recipes, and decided to purchase the book myself.  I quickly emailed Brenda to tell her how happy I was with the book and asked her if she'd like to do a little cook along together.  We decided on a laid-back approach of one recipe per month, posting the chosen recipe at any time during the month.  The first recipe in our little cook along is this super tasty and flavorful Pimiento Mac 'n' Cheese.

All of the recipes in Look + Cook stand out to me, but this recipe for Pimiento Mac 'n' Cheese really caught my eye. In this recipe Rachel really spices things up with with a generous dose of paprika and hot sauce.  I was a big fan of the spicy undertones in this macaroni and cheese and found myself craving it even after it was gone. This is a fantastic recipe that I will make again in the future.  Probably soon!
Pimiento Mac 'n CheeseAdapted from Rachel Ray's Look + CookServes 6Salt 1 pound cavatappi pasta (hollow, fat corkscrew-shaped pasta) or elbows (I used mini penne)1 tablespoon extra virgin-olive oil3 tablespoons butter1 medium onion, finely chopped3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (maybe a little more)Black pepper3 tablespoons all-purpose flour2 tablespoons sweet paprika, plus additional for garnish2 cups whole milk (I used 1%)2 teaspoons hot sauce3 cups grated sharp yellow cheddar cheese2 (4-ounce) jars pimientos, drained1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf or curly parsley
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.  Salt the water and cook the pasta to just shy of al dente.  Heat a large pot over medium heat with the extra virgin olive oil and butter.  When the butter melts, add the onions, garlic, and salt and cook for another minute.  Stir in the paprika.  Whisk in the milk and hot sauce and bring up to a bubble, then cook to thicken for a minute or two.  Turn off the heat and stir in half of the cheese in a figure-eight motion until melted.  Add the pimientos.  Preheat the broiler.  When the pasta is  nearly al dente, drain it well and add it to the pot with the cheese sauce.  Toss to combine.  Then under the broiler, 2 to 3 minutes.  Garnish with the chopped parsley and a generous sprinkle of sweet paprika.
Notes/Results:  This is a smooth and creamy macaroni and cheese with spicy undertones and lots of yummy garlic flavor.  One thing I liked about this macaroni and cheese is the fact that it goes under the broiler for just a few minutes, which allows it to be smooth and creamy instead of having the consistency of baked macaroni and cheese. A keeper recipe for sure!

This Pimiento Mac 'n' Cheese was February's choice for our Look + Cook Cook Along.  For the month of March Brenda has chosen Rachel's Individual Florentine Frying-Pan Pizza on page 213 of the book.  If any of you would like to cook along and need the recipe, shoot me an email and I'll be happy to send it to you.