From the dawn of time, or at least my time, my favorite meal was always mac and cheese. My dad was the only person I would trust to make even boxed mac and cheese just the right way – still gooey and totally runny. I detest dry mac. Fast forward 20 years – and I’m a big girl who can make her own mac and cheese. Better yet – make it from scratch.
A couple months ago Ben and I visited Portland for a food cart marathon and after a full day of foot carting it up decided we still needed dinner. (Gluttons!) Since I was in town one of my blogging idols and I decided we needed to do dinner. You may know her as Lauren.
I was a bundle of nerves the whole time. (Play it cool, Megan…) Hanging with Lauren, her husband and their positively adorable daughter was the highlight of my trip. (Adorable baby hormones, Activate!) Ben and Gordon talked planes whilst Lauren and I formulated a plan to stay firmly planted on the ground cooking while the boys go Maverick and Goose on us.
In between bites of pulled pork, endless conversation and trying to win one round of “Crazy Eyes” with Lauren’s daughter (she won, btw ) I tried to study and reconstruct the mac and cheese that was my side dish.
With the massive pulled pork sandwich I couldn’t finish consuming (but oh dear Lawd it was insane to the nth degree), there was no room to pack in the rest of my chili verde mac and cheese without unbuttoning my jeans. You can’t take me anywhere. What I couldn’t eat of that mac and cheese was boxed up and carried back to our friends place for a presumable hangover lunch the next day. But what did I do when I left Portland? Left the mac and cheese leftovers In. Portland!
Panic insued. I wanted to study this mac and cheese. Get to know it. Take it all in. Make out with it. Call it cute little pet names. It was just that damn good. So all attempts were made to recreate it from memory. I give you salsa verde mac and cheese.
If you knew me a year ago you may have stumbled into a recipe I posted for Crab Mac and Cheese that was mind blowingly out of this realm. Ben hoovered it, I hoovered, my jeans shrank and I was in a near comatose state of carbaholic bliss. Food sin at it’s finest.
As spring emerges in Seattle we are forced to cope with bi-polar weather that fluctuates like Kristie Alley’s waistline. It’s sunny and almost something you can consider “warm” one minute and then raining and 50 the next. On one of said rainy days the only meal that would satisfy the pang and urge for cold weather comfort food was mac and cheese. After sourcing a pair of pork shoulder steaks, they were browned in the dutch oven with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Then deglazed with a secret ingredient.
Tequila. ‘Cause that’s how I roll. What up?
The pork was covered in tequila, one 16 ounce jar of medium salsa verde, one seeded and diced jalapeno, 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth and 2 cloves of minced garlic. With everything in the pot turned to just allow a simmer, it was left to do it’s sexy dance for about 2 hours or until the pork can be shredded with a fork. If you feel like cubing your pork before hand, that’s fine too – it will speed up the process.
For the mac and cheese, prepping a roux was essential to the cheese sauce thickening properly. Make sure it browns and when your milk is added it comes to a boil. If it doesn’t boil it won’t thicken. Add a whopping pile of various cheeses to the mix, boil some noodles and finito!
Top the mac and cheese with the salsa verde and ample pieces of pork – and promptly devour. Please remember to take breaths inbetween bites. It’s a hazard of the dish – but I can’t be held responsible for you keeling over whilst downing a bowl of this.
Salsa Verde Mac and Cheese
An easy rehash of Portland's Podnah's Pit Chili Verde Mac and Cheese without smoking your meat all day long.
Pork Salsa Verde:
1 pound boneless Pork Shoulder Steaks
1 jar (16 oz) Medium Salsa Verde
1 Jalapeno, deseeded and diced
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4-1/3 cup Tequila for deglazing
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Mac and Cheese:
10 ounces Penne Pasta
3 Tbsp Flour
3 Tbsp Butter
1 tsp Powdered Mustard
2 1/2 cup Milk
1/4 tsp Pepper
4 ounces Medium Cheddar, shredded
4 ounces White Cheddar, shredded
4 ounces Havarti, shredded
Pork Salsa Verde:
In large pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil. When oil is heated brown pork shoulder cuts on all sides until browned. (If you wish to cube the meat before hand, feel free. It will reduce cooking time.) When meat is browned on all sides, deglaze pot with tequila. Add in jarred salsa verde, garlic, jalapeno, and chicken broth. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until meat can be pulled apart with forks.
Mac and Cheese:
In separate pot, melt butter and just bring to a simmer, whisk in flour and allow to brown slightly - creating a roux. Temper in milk by adding small amounts at a time whisking constantly. Once milk is completely added in, bring mixture to a boil to ensure roux activates and begins to thicken. Add in powdered mustard, pepper, all cheeses and whisk until completely incorporated. Bring to another slight boil and thicken sauce slightly.
Prepare penne pasta according to package directions. Drain well and pour into cheese mixture, folding to ensure all pasta is properly coated.
Plate mac and cheese, spoon pork salsa verde on top. Serve immediately.
Inspired by Podnah's Pit Smoked Pork Chili Verde Mac and Cheese