Among the recipes requested frequently at Mizado Latin Kitchen is one for the Chorizo Mac and Cheese, a dish that has been on the menu since the restaurant opened three years ago.
“We wanted to have something that was hearty that would really highlight our chorizo meat because we make our chorizo meat-in house,” chef de cuisine Eric Solar said of the sausage made with ground pork seasoned with a in-house chorizo spice mix.
“At home, you want to make sure you get a good chorizo meat,” he said. “Our meat is very flavorful and fully seasoned so once you add the macaroni and the cheese, you don’t need to add anything else.”
Also, he said, it is important to use fresh mozzarella, as called for in the recipe below, because it is moist and helps to create a cheese sauce that clings to the pasta. (Never uses pre-shredded cheeses in mac and cheese because often it includes flour to prevent sticking, he said. Also, it is too dry.)
To finish the dish off, Solar likes to drizzle a bit of Salvadorian crema on top of the mac and cheese before serving.
Chorizo; Salvadorian crema, a sweetened sour cream; queso fresco, a creamy, mild white cheese; and masa harina, a flour uses to make tortillas, is available at many groceries, or try one of the Latin stores in town, such as Ideal Market.
Chorizo Mac and Cheese
Makes 12 servings
1-1/2 pounds large elbow pasta, cooked al dente
2-1/4 pounds chorizo meat (sausage removed from casing)
14 ounces queso blanco
2 cups half and half
1 pound fresh mozzarella, shredded
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup masa flour
1 teaspoon Mexican spice (or chili powder)
Remove chorizo meat from casing and brown thoroughly in pan over medium-high heat. Drain well.
Place queso blanco and half and half over a low fire until cheese is completely melted. Do not boil.
In large bowl, combine pasta, meat, cheese sauce and mozzarella. Mix well with a spoon or clean or gloved hands.
Ladle into oiled 2-cup ramekins or 13-by-9-inch pan. Top with bread crumb mixture.
Bake oven at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes.
Note: If you bake the mac and cheese while each ingredients is still warm, it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes for cheese to begin bubbling and the bread crumbs to turn golden on top. If you refrigerate before baking, wait to add topping until just before putting it in the oven and expect longer cooking time. Want the top darker? Run it under the broiler for a few minutes.