Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chat 'n Chew's Macaroni and Cheese

Many years ago, a young fresh-faced me enjoyed a really great mac 'n cheese at the Chat 'n Chew (a restaurant in NYC near Union Square). It was so creamy and perfect (serious comfort food). I liked it so much, I asked them if the recipe had ever been published anywhere and they told me it was printed once in The Daily News the year before.

I realize this next part makes me sound ancient, but this was back in the old days, before anything and everything was posted on the internet. So I had to research this old school. That's right, I actually dragged my ass to the library and sat (for what seemed like an eternity), scrolling through rolls and rolls of microfiche looking for the recipe. (I linked that for those of you who are under thirty and lucky enough not to know what micofiche is.) Anyway, ultimately I found the recipe, paid my 10 cents for a photocopy and left feeling victorious (of course now if I google it, I get 52,800 results in less than 2 seconds).

(Yield: 8-12 servings)

1/2 pound butter
1 small Spanish onion, diced
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 pint heavy cream
1 pint milk
1 1/4 pounds shredded sharp cheddar cheese (the good stuff)
8 slices American cheese
1/2 pound grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons green Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/4 pounds macaroni, cooked al dente
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste

1.      Preheat oven to 350° F.
2.      Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add flour, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add cream and milk; whisk until smooth.  Bring to a boil.
3.      Stir in 1 pound cheddar, American cheese, 1/4 pound parmesan, Tabasco sauce, cumin and garlic powder.  Stir until creamy; add salt and pepper.
4.      Combine pasta and cheese sauce in a 10”-12” ovenproof enamel baking dish.  In layers, sprinkle remaining cheddar and parmesan and breadcrumbs.
5.      Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and browning on top. 

barely adapted from Chat 'n Chew (New York, NY)

chopped onions
onions cooking in butter
flour added (making a roux)
milk and cream added
stirring in the cheese and spices (I think it's the green
Tabasco and cumin that makes this a little special)
macaroni draining
macaroni added to cheesy sauce
I used a smaller baking dish...this recipe makes so much
that I like to put some unbaked mac 'n cheese into smaller,
single-serving tins that I can freeze and bake as needed.
ready to eat
These are the smaller tins I was referring to before
(I bought them at the party store). My daughter doesn't
like the breadcrumbs on top, so I left them off. Personally
I think she's nuts (if you ask me, the breadcrumbs
are critical to the overall enjoyment of the dish).


Elizabeth (Foodie, Formerly Fat) said...

LOVE Chat 'n Chew! They have amazing grilled cheese sandwiches too. I remember swooning over this mac and cheese so I'll have to make it. Thanks for doing all the heavy lifting on finding this recipe. Gotta love microfiche!

Susan said...

You're welcome...but the record, I don't love microfiche!

MiloshEnzastiga said...

I haven't been to Chat n Chew since I lived in NYC in the late 90s. Very excited. Can you suggest a brand for the breadcrumbs? Also, I don't remember it having a spicy taste. Does the Tabasco sauce come through very strong? My family isn't able tolerate too much hot pepper flavor.

I used to get this dish with the honey fried chicken every once in a while.

Thanks for posting this!

Susan said...

I don't use any special brand of breadcrumbs (usually whatever I can find without soy because my daughter is allergic). I've made it with seasoned panko too, which is nice (extra crunchy).

It isn't spicy - the green tabasco is milder than the red. But you can always add a little at a time to taste. I wouldn't omit it entirely though (I think it definitely adds a little something).

Let me know how it turns out!

MiloshEnzastiga said...

Turned out great by the way! I used your suggestion to freeze smaller portions of it and we've been pulling it out to supplement dinner from time to time. Thanks!

Susan said...

I'm so glad...thanks for letting me know!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting the recipe.

I appreciate the microfiche search too. While the internet is an amazing tool for finding things that might have taken years, if ever, to find, I do remember the gratification of having to dig and track something down, and finally finding it.

This mac & cheese is the bomb!

Susan said...

It was satisfying to finally find it, after all that digging! Thanks, I'm so glad you like the recipe as much as I do!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this recipe! My daughter loves Chat 'n Chew mac and cheese and was in despair when she learned they had closed. We made this last night and could tell just by the delicious smell that we'd hit gold. Yum!

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