With the weather outside getting in a bit of a muddle at the moment; where the sun shines high in the sky one minute only to disappear into the gloomy grey as it buckets down with rain another; I figured Mac 'n' Cheese nachos were sort of a best of both worlds- Summer meets Autumn mash up dish complete with the fresh summery flavours of salsa and guacamole and the hearty decadence of macaroni cheese to warm up the insides on the chilliest of Autumn days.
Now this recipe is very much intended to be one of those; use as much or as little from it as you like; whether you buy your tortilla chips and tex mex toppings from the supermarket and just make your own macaroni to adorn the top; or go all out making every single component although, please be warned it does take many an hour to whip up however, the finished product is utterly delicious and worth the long slog in the kitchen! I have simply included my favourite recipes for the most terrific crunchy tortilla chips, gorgeous guac; superb salsa and a bloomin' marvelous mac 'n' cheese which if you only take one thing away from this recipe; then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make this incredible macaroni cheese, pop it in a baking dish, coat with some herby breadcrumbs for a crispy top or grated mozzarella for a gooey, molten mozarella top and just bake. Serve with garlic bread. Indulge. Enjoy!
Makes one big ol' plate of machos to get troffing into!
For the Tortilla Chips:
8 Flour or Corn tortillas
1L bottle of vegetable oil
For the Salsa:
6 medium ripe tomatoes
1/2 medium red onion
1 small garlic clove
small splash of white wine vinegar
juice of 1/2-1 lime
handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly
salt and pepper to taste
For the Guacamole:
1 large ripe tomato
2 large avocados, very ripe
juice of 1 lime
handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly
1 small red chilli
1 small red onion
salt to taste
Sour Cream and Chive Dip (I prefer the supermarket versions but please feel free to buy soured cream and stir in some finely chopped chives)
For the Refried Beans (optional):
1 medium onion
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. tomato puree
2 tsp. each of chipotle chilli paste, light brown sugar and red wine vinegar
380g carton of black beans, drained and rinsed (I used Sainsbury's SO organic black beans)
400g tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
For the Mac 'n' Cheese:
600g whole milk
50g plain flour
50g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
200g mature or extra mature cheddar cheese
100g gruyere cheese
50g parmesan (if not veggie) or Italian style hard cheese (if veggie, available in value form at Tesco or Basics at Sainsbury's)
1/2 tsp. english mustard
Top with some finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
1. Start by preparing the tortilla chips. Cut your flour or corn tortillas into triangles and fry either in a deep fat fryer or large saucepan filled with hot vegetable oil. Ensure that the oil is piping hot so that when the tortilla triangle is dropped in the oil fizzes/bubbles. Cook until crisp and bronze, remove from oil and place onto a kitchen roll lined tray to drain off excess oil.
2. Make the salsa. Finely chop the tomatoes, red onion and garlic clove and place in a bowl. Add the white wine vinegar, lime juice, coriander, salt and pepper and stir together. Refrigerate until needed.
3. Next prepare the guacamole. Pulverise the tomato to a pulp, chopping on a chopping board and add to a bowl. Halve the avocados and remove the stone before scooping out the flesh into the bowl with the tomato. Finely chop the red onion and deseeded chilli and add to the tomato and avocado with the lime juice and coriander. Use a potato masher to mash everything together until smooth. Sit an avocado stone into the centre of the guacamole to help prevent it going brown and refrigerate until needed.
4. Then make the refried beans if using. Soften the onion in the oil in a frying pan. Once softened, stir in the spices for 2 mins, followed by the tomato puree, chipotle paste, sugar and vinegar. Pour in all the beans and half a can of water. Season with salt and pepper. Bubble gently until the water is almost evaporated.
5. For the mac 'n' cheese; bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni for approximately 10 minutes or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain completely.
6. Whilst the pasta cooks; prepare the cheese sauce. Heat the milk in a small saucepan or a jug in the microwave until hot but not boiling. In a medium pan, melt the butter, stir in the flour to form a paste and cook over a low heat, stirring for a couple of minutes until the roux (flour and butter paste) is golden in colour and remove from the heat. Add the hot milk a little at a time, stirring vigorously until all the milk is added and the mix is fully combined. Return to the heat and heat on a medium heat, stirring continuously for 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt.
7. Add all of the cheese until melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir through the mustard and mix in the macaroni.
8. Scatter all of the tortilla chips onto a large serving plate/bowl. Pour over the hot mac 'n' cheese, top with a large dollop of guacamole, salsa, sour cream and refried beans and sprinkle with chopped coriander.
9. Chow down with friends and family! It's the perfect sharing dish to tuck into on a cold night curled up on the sofa with a cider in hand and a movie on the telly.
Thank you for reading!