This is a long post, and it is in current development, so I expect to post in 3 parts over the next few days.
Last February we ran a Valentines Day Special dinner and some of the guests have been requesting some of those items on our regular menu.
This post will be an outline of a recipe revision process the turn Alton Brown’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese into Austin Cantina’s Jalapeno & Crab Mac and Cheese, which we’ll have on our next menu update.
The first step is to transform it into the familiar, consistent recipe format that we use in the Cantina Kitchen. I usually do this in excel, with 3 or 4 columns. There is often 1, or 2 columns of quantity, depending on if we scale the recipe differently, sometimes one sheet will include small batch & large batch quantities. The next column is the units (pounds, tablespoons, each, etc…), next is the product, and finally the procedure. Often the procedure will refer to several items, so if there is a gap in the last column, that is because blend/mix, or whatever is done to the last several items. It sounds confusing but is easier to just look at;
to al dente (reserve)
3 tbl butter melt in pan
3 tbl flour
1 tbl powdered mustard whisk together w/butter
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 ea bay leaf
1/2 tsp paprika Add To Above (ATA)
Simmer 10 min, remove bay leaf
1 ea egg temper,
9 (of 12) oz sharp cheddar, shredded ATA
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Fresh black pepper season
Add reserved macaroni and fold all together
pour into a 2-quart casserole dish.
4 oz sharp cheddar, shredded spread on top of mac
3 tbl butter melt in sauté pan
1 cup panko bread crumbs toss to coat
Top the mac/cheese w/buttered crumbs
Bake for 30 minutes at 350f
Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.
OK, so that is Alton’s recipe, reformatted to our kitchen style. I’m a big fan of Alton’s shows and have enjoyed success using his recipes in the past. I enjoy the way that he explains and demonstrates techniques and the reason behind why he does things.
So, the first things I’m going to change will be to revise some of the ingredients to use product that we already keep on-hand. I prefer to use white onions to yellow, they have a shorter shelf life but I find they have a “cleaner” onion flavor. I love the Texas Sweet onions like the 1015 (similar to the Vidalia, or Walla Walla sweets), but use a straight white onion year round and have been quite pleased with the results.
We use several varieties of chile flake and powders here, but paprika isn’t one of them, so in place of the paprika powder, I’m throwing is a similar quantity of New Mexico Chile Flake, and at that point I’ll also add 4 each fine chopped jalapeno’s. I’m going to replace the cheddar with the cheese blend we use for topping enchiladas, it is a blend of Queso Fresco which has a tangy flavor, with some mozzarella that melts real well.
Instead of placing all in a big casserole dish and baking at 350 for a half hour, we keep our oven at 425 during service, so we’ll plate individual portions of mac & cheese in our oven proof ceramic, a little bit of mac & cheese, a generous handful of crab, then top w/mac & cheese, and finally the bread crumb topping.
I’ll need to do some testing for how much time it gets in the oven, if you try this at home, you’ll need to do the same as each oven has it’s own peculiarities. Feel free to stop in this weekend and give me some feedback on the current version, before the next set of changes.