#4: What are you eating?
Me: Mac & cheese. Spicy mac and cheese!
#5: Why do you make everything spicy?
Me: Because it’s good.
I pointed to #4: You’re going to like this someday.
#4: Why do you say that?
Me: Because you already crossed the line. You like crushed red pepper on your pizza.
#4: But that’s GOOD.
Me: That’s my point. Crushed red pepper on pizza is the gateway spice.
#4: Gateway spice?
Me: Yeah. You start with a little red pepper on your pizza and pretty soon you’re guzzling bottles of Sriracha and snorting chili powder down in back alleys.
Blank stares from both of them.
Me: This is probably not an age-appropriate conversation, is it?
#5: What is wrong with you?
Here is quite possibly the best thing to ever come out of the midwest: My stepmom’s recipe for Ro-tel Mac & Cheese.
WARNING: Do not attempt to make a “healthy” version of this. It’s pointless and will only piss you off. No soy cheese, no fat-free milk, no gluten-free pasta. Just don’t. If those are your dietary restrictions, just eat the Ro-tel out of the can because it will make you happier.
Before attempting this recipe, keep in mind two things:
- If you send someone under the age of 24 out for a box of elbow macaroni, they will likely return to you with a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese (that’s Kraft Dinner to my Canadian friends).
- Ro-tel is arbitrarily placed in grocery stores. One of my grocery stores puts it in with the tomatoes, one stocks it with the taco stuff. In case you’ve never heard of it, it’s tomatoes with chilis. Mmm. Spicy.
RO-TEL MAC & CHEESE
1- 1lb box elbow macaroni
3 c milk
1/4 lb butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 c milk
12 oz shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided usage
2 cans Original Ro-tel diced tomatoes with chilis
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside.
3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the 3 cups of milk, butter, salt and pepper until hot but not boiling.
4. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of milk with the cornstarch and stir until dissolved.
5. Slowly add this to the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly with a which.
6. When mixture has thickened, remove from heat and stir in 2 cups of cheese until melted.
7. Pour pasta into a large mixing bowl and add the cheese mixture and Rotel.
8. Mix well until macaroni is coated.
9. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish or 3-quart casserole and top with remining cheese.
10. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown on top.
It’s better the second day and perfect as a midnight snack. You’re gonna thank me for this.
What’s your favorite comfort food?