This one's for all my hot sauce + mac n cheese loving homies out there.
You know who you are. Frank's, Marie's, Tapatio, Tabasco, something red and fiery has to be sprinkled over the top for that pile of cheese and pasta to really sing for ya. Not like you wouldn't eat it if it weren't there. But you're the one waiting for Texas Pete when your pals are already shoveling.
The beauty of a batch of kimchi is that it's a long term investment - the longer it sits, the stinkier it gets. Its personality changes. It becomes sharper and more pungent with each passing day - textures dull, flavors blend. For some reason, I still eat it quickly, like it's about to go bad, whenever I make a batch. Seldom does a 2 pound kimchi'd napa sit around this house for longer than a week. Good for the guts (I hope).
I've done a ton of pastry baking this week, exploring whether or not I have the chops to start selling the stuff out of an awesome local coffee joint (the long, arduous tale of finding a legal kitchen to cook it in, we'll leave for another time). I think I'm getting there. The reason I tell you this is that I tried the holy cheddar/kimchi combo in a poptart-shaped pastry this week, and found it to be as near perfect a trio of flav as I'd tried in a long while (pasta/bread, cheddar, stinky, spicy pickle). Had to try it with my go-to macaroni cheese recipe, and, well, holy cannoli. Kinda made my week.
Yeah, I used my two-serving corningware. Having any more than that around would have proved quite dangerous, methinks. If you need more, just double/triple the ingredients as needed.
Mac 'n Chi
1/3 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
2/3 cup milk
1/3 - 1/2 cup kimchi
1 cup cooked elbow macaroni
Butter, for greasing the casserole
Chopped cilantro for garnish, sliced apple for serving
Make the bechamel (boil the noodles while this happens, if you don't have cooked noodles at hand) - melt your butter over medium heat in a small saucepan, add flour, whisk until flour cooks and turns slightly golden. Whisk in mustard, then milk, whisking constantly as the sauce thickens (should take about 2 minutes). Add your cheese and discard your whisk - use a fork to incorporate it completely. Taste for salt.
In your casserole, combine your pasta and kimchi. Add sauce and fold it all together GENTLY. Sprinkle any remaining cheese over the top (or some buttered bread crumbs, hmm yes).
Bake for 20 minutes in a 350f oven, until sides are bubbly. Broil for 2-3 until the top browns a little bit.
Serve with a lightly dressed lemon-arugula salad or sliced green apple. You could be like moi and eat it for breakfast, and get cheese-spaced early in the day, or save it for dinner. Reheats beeeeeautifully! Enjoy!