|Serves||6 to 8|
After my daughter was born, Culinate’s recipe editor, Carrie Floyd, brought us this dish for dinner one night. Nearly two years later, I finally got around to looking up the original recipe — from Amanda Hesser’s memoir Cooking for Mr. Latte — and decided to come up with my own version. It’s excellent on a cold winter weekend.
|1||lb. dried short macaroni pasta, such as elbows, corkscrews, or shells|
|2||cups whole milk|
|12||oz. (1½ cups) grated or cubed Monterey Jack cheese (a blend of 8 ounces Colby Jack and 4 ounces Pepper Jack makes for a lightly spicy mac’n’cheese)|
|~||Freshly ground black pepper|
|1||can (14½ ounces) diced tomatoes|
|1½||cups ham, cut into small cubes|
|1||cup coarse breadcrumbs, preferably homemade (see Note)|
|~||Fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced (optional)|
Make your own breadcrumbs by ripping up stale bread into smaller chunks, then blitzing them in a food processor. Store breadcrumbs in the freezer until needed.
For a richer mac’n’cheese, use 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream instead of 2 cups milk.
If you want to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, core and de-seed a few ripe tomatoes before dicing the remaining flesh. Put the diced tomatoes in a colander or sieve and gently press on them with the back of a spoon to force out any excess liquid.
You can swap out the ham in favor of canned tuna. Drain two cans (about 5 to 6 ounces) each of tuna (preferably from a sustainable fishery, such as the Oregon albacore fishery) and flake the meat. Add it to the pasta just before assembling and baking the dish.
This content is from the Culinate Kitchen collection.
Change in our kitchens
Reflections on cooking — and a career that’s based largely at the stove.
Flatbreads from around the continent
Beyond a supporting role
The great Sicilian-Neapolitan kitchen rivalry
Five ideas each month for eating better