Philly Cheesesteak Macaroni and Cheese

Philly Cheesesteak Mac and Cheese
Last week I did a demo at the Coolidge Corner Meat House featuring my Philly Cheesesteak Dip. Once I had made the dip and had set it out for people to sample, I got to staring at it and sort of zoned out, totally mesmerized by the way the cheese was perfectly coating the paper thin slices of steak and the diced mushrooms.  I then started to, as I do with most things I find to be particularly delicious, think of other ways I could use them to create a new dish.  With little effort, I started to see noodles swirling in the cheesy, beefy mixture and then I imagines a crispy crust made from fresh homemade breadcrumbs and within minutes, I was on my way to creating a killer mac and cheese recipe - Philly Cheesesteak Mac and Cheese.

Cheese, sweet cheese!
This recipe is certainly a simple one but it does require a couple of important key steps.  First off, it's important to use cheese with exceptional melting qualities (i.e. don't even think about using low-fat anything in here!).  There certainly is some room for creativity when selecting your cheeses but for this particular mac and cheese, I used three cheeses - a mild cheddar, sharp cheddar and American cheese.  I like to include American cheese because it's so great at melting down into a fine and naturally thick sauce without giving off an overpowering flavor.

Next, to ensure a saucy and very cheesy mac and cheese, it's important to bake the pasta in way more sauce than you think you need.  The noodles will absorb the sauce while baking and the biggest fail of a homemade mac and cheese is having it be dry.  Additionally, to get a nice crisp crust, I like to make my own breadcrumbs using a couple pieces of day old bread and toasting it up to get all the moisture out.  Not only is it easy but it adds such a great flavor and added crispy texture.  I also like to finish my mac and cheese with a pinch of salt and a hit of fresh chopped parsley right before serving to help wake everything up.

Mmm, is there anything better than a piping hot bowl of cheesy mac and cheese on a dark and stormy Boston day?

Check out the recipe after the jump!

Philly Cheesesteak Mac and Cheese

- 1 box pasta, any shape, boiled in salted water until very tender
- 1 lb shaved steak
- 1 1/2 cups mild grated yellow cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup reserved
- 1 1/2 cups sharp grated white cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup reserved
- 1/2 lb American cheese
- 1 container mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, made into paste
-  1/2 stick unsalted butter, plus 2 TBS for the onions and mushrooms
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups milk, warmed and just steaming
- 1/2 beef stock or broth
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 6 pieces of sourdough bread, toasted and made into breadcrumbs in a food processor
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Start by melting 2 TBS of butter in a large skillet and adding the mushrooms.  Let the mushrooms simmer for a bit until they start to brown.  Add the chopped onion and continue simmering until the onions become translucent.  Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.  Raise the heat to high and if the skillet is not greasy, add a little more butter and then add the steak.  If the skillet is still a little coasted in butter, you can just add the steak to the pan and quick fry the steak just for a couple of minutes and until you can start to see it brown a bit.  Drain off any liquid and remove steak from the pan and set aside.  Once the steak is cool enough to handle, break it apart into bits using a knife.

In a large pot, on medium heat, melt 1/2 stick of butter and add the flour.  The mixture will immediately become thick.  Stirring constantly and breaking apart any visible flour bits, let the butter/flour mixture (roux) cook until it just starts to bubble a little.  Add the steaming milk in section, combining as you go.  Add the beef stock or broth, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of cayenne.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Melt in the American cheese.  The sauce should have thickened a bit.  If it gets too thick, add more stock or broth.  Add in the grated cheddar cheeses and stir to combine and until the cheese is consistently melted.  Add the steak, mushrooms and onions as well as the garlic paste to the pot.  Stir to combine and let everything cook together for a couple of minutes.   Add the cooked pasta and stir until everything is well incorporated.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 pan and top with remaining cheddar cheeses.  Bake covered at 325 for about 20 - 25 minutes.  Take out of the oven and if the cheese is all melted, add the breadcrumbs and return the pan to the oven and bake at 350 until the cheese and breadcrumbs turn a golden brown.  Remove from oven, finish with a pinch of salt and let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving.  Top with parsley just before serving.  


Fresh and Foodie said...

Um. Wow. :)

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

This looks fantastic! I love your creativity in this dish!

Rachel Blumenthal said...

Awesome! I just added this to the mac and cheese recipe index on Boston Food Bloggers - http://www.bostonfoodbloggers.com/2011/01/mac-and-cheese-melee.html

Megan said...

Brilliant! This looks just like something you'd get at a restaurant.

The Hungry Crafter said...

My boyfriend is going to love me FOR. EVER. once I make this. Thanks! Think I could sub panko for the homemade breadcrumbs and still get good crunch?

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Thanks Hungry Crafter and absolutely, in a pinch, Panko would totally work. I just happened to have leftover sourdough bread on hand and I like the slight tang but Panko's good too.

MichellePC said...

Are you trying to kill me?! ;) My new life mission is to recreate this dish, vegetarian-style. It looks divine, and I love how your dip inspired it!

Anonymous said...

Holy macaroni this looks DELICIOUS!! My mouth is literally watering looking at these pics..and it's only 4 pm!

Meesh said...

officially added to Superbowl menu. its the only thing on there so far, but its definitely happening.

Meesh said...

officially added to Superbowl menu. its the only thing on there so far, but its definitely happening.

Lizzy said...

WOW. I'm drooling. I want this now!! Good tips too- I always am disappointed that I don't make my mac n cheese creamy enough because I usually try to make it too healthy. But um to make mac n cheese good you cant do that! I seriously cannot wait to try this!!

Sarah @ Semi-Sweet said...

I literally need to leave the kitchen after reading this - had a healthful (and too petite) salad for dinner (w/beans for protein, but whatever) and now I am frickin' rabid for this dish! If my husband saw this, he'd drive across the frozen tundra for shaved steak. You can bet that after we get back from the beach (until then, no macaroni for this mama), this is going to be made, STAT!

Anonymous said...

This looks absolutely delicious! What a great recipe - I mean who doesn't love mac and cheese! It is my #1 comfort food!! Hey, when did you say you are coming home again?!? Soon I hope!!

Beth said...

Ok...so after looking at that cake, I thought it couldn't get better...and then it did!!! OMG. I want this too! :)

Anonymous said...

Me = Salivating right now. Sounds amazingly delicious!

Eliana said...

I would have never thought to make a mac 'n cheese like this one. It's a genius and delicious idea.

Peabody said...

What a fun idea for dressing up Mac and Cheese. Yum.

Alicia said...

mmmm - this is mouthwatering!

Sandy & Mandi said...

Beautiful!! We will definitely have to try this!

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