Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Declare That I Have Invented the Capital Region Style Mac Cheese! (Hot Dog Chili Maccaroni and Cheese)

What happens when a pound of good ol' Upstate New York aged cheddar,

meets with a bottle of Capital Region Style Hot Dog Chili,

inside a tray of fairly vanilla mac cheese?

I declare that Capital Region Style Mac Cheese is created! Huzzah!

The idea for adding Hot Dog chili to baked maccaroni and cheese came to mind as I was discussing the infamous Chili Mac of Army DFAC fame with a buddy. Anyone who has thrown on the old green pajamas for any amount of time will be familiar with this chow hall staple (I think they still even make it in MRE form). Anyhow, I thought that putting the hot dog chili straight onto noodles might be a little plain, so I went with the mac cheese concept.

I started with my usual, fairly standard, bechamel + cheddar maccaroni and cheese recipe (i.e. not that different from what you might find on the back of a Ronzoni box). I don't really have too many secrets to making mac cheese. I do cook the roux a little more than many might (it adds a pleasing nuttiness), and I always add about this much dried mustard powder-

I find that dried mustard is a very crucial ingredient and I was a little heavy handed with my dosage this time to play to the Captial Region dinky dog theme. I kind of folded the jar of Charlie's sauce into the pan of noodles as I was going for veins of chili throughout the dish. I thought that throwing it straight into the bechamel might make for an unappetizing color and appearance.

I topped with more shredded cheese before baking.

Does anyone else, when shredding cheese, decide that the little nub that is left at the end (when you have come to the point where you are worried about shredding your knuckles) is the angels share and should be immediately consumed?

Anyways, the whole mess went into a 375 oven for about 39 minutes. It came out a little less brown and crunchy than I am accustomed to, I attribute this to the added moisture from the hot dog chili. Notice the pools of red grease (nectar of the the hot dog gods which our forefathers worshiped in strange ceremonies behind closed doors), so characteristic of Hot Dog Charlie's particular sauce.

With bated breath I dug out a corner spoonful (my favorite) and threw it on a plate.

Folks, this was very, very tasty. The Greek spice profile of the Hot Dog Charlie's sauce seems to be accentuated in this application. The Capital Region Hot Dog Chili Mac Cheese has a kind of Pasticho feel to it. You get a vinegar tang with a punch of onion that perfectly accentuates the sharpness of the aged cheddar. I would make this again, and I think that you should try it too. Mayhaps this dish will be my legacy, a gift to the future.

By the way, just wait until you see what I plan on doing with the leftovers. Mu. Ha. Ha.

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