The game was deep into the 4th quarter when the doorbell rang. I hadn’t been expecting anybody so I was both curious & annoyed to be pulled away from the television at this crucial stage of the game. When I opened the door I was handed a pizza by a delivery guy who turned away quickly without saying a word.
"But I didn’t order a pizza." I said. The delivery guy got into his unmarked & unremarkable car and drove off. He never looked back. I shrugged my shoulders, closed the door and took the pizza box over to the kitchen table to see what kind of pie it was.
It was a large extra cheese that began speaking to me in more ways than a pizza usually does speak to me when I opened the box. "Mr. Matthews, your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to create an original Gameday recipe using one of the many fine Sargento Shredded Cheese products available at your local grocer. This pizza will now self-destruct in 12 pieces."
And it did with the help of my hungry family.
As we all ate the pizza, my family & I discussed the mysterious assignment. There were so many ideas bouncing around in my head and my wife & kids were there as always to help me sort them through. My first thought was a dip.
“Can’t do a dip Dad.” said my oldest daughter.
“Why not ?” I replied.
“It’s not you.” said my middle daughter/
“What do you mean it’s not me ?” I responded.
“Dad-Dude, you make alligator chili,” said my young son “you don’t make dip.”
“He’s right Honey.” My wife chimed in.
And you know what, my wife & kids were right. I needed to make something a little bolder. I needed to make something with some weight to it. I needed to make something that could anchor a tailgate buffet like a staunch offensive line and I needed to give it a twist to make it my own. That’s when it hit me and Gameday Mac & Mex was born.
I decided to take an old fashioned buffet staple like Macaroni & Cheese and give it the same type of twist that we are seeing in restaurants all across America. I decided that Mac & Cheese needed to make a trip south of the border and Sargento’s 4 Cheese Mexican Mix was going to be just the cheese to help me do it.
After throwing a pound of elbow macaroni into a pot of boiling water, I started making the roux for my cheese sauce with butter, flour, warm (I stress warm) milk and my spices. Warming the milk before whisking it into the golden roux helps the roux dissolve slowly and not in lumps. When the milk has all been added and the liquid has a silky texture to it, it’s time to turn off the heat and add in the Sargento 2 Cheese Mexican Mix. Once the cheese has melted and the sauce is thick, you pour it onto cooked & drained macaroni. When the cheese sauce has been thoroughly integrated into the pasta it’s time to start folding in your black beans, chopped chiles or jalapenos, green onions, diced avocadoes and cilantro. Transfer all of that goodness to a large 13X9 glass pan and spoon up to 2 cups of salsa across the top of the dish before placing into a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. When the top is starting to turn a golden brown and the edges are starting to bubble, it’s time to pull it out of the oven and let it rest & settle. Keep the south of the border theme going and garnish with sour cream, olives and/or fresh cilantro.
When I took my first bite I had a feeling I had a contender. When I saw my wife & kids take a second bite without saying anything after the first bite I knew I had made it into the playoffs. When my son got up from the table and gave me a High Five & a Fist Bump, I knew this dish was going to the Super Bowl.
Gameday Mac & Mex featuring Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican Mix is going to be in my line-up for years to come. I hope you add it to yours too. Enjoy.
I’m an Allrecipes All Star Ambassador and the views & opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own. It is a volunteer position and I am not paid. I did receive free product from Sargento but I would have bought it anyway without the coupons. I think there is some other legal mumbo jumbo I am supposed to add as well but I can’t remember what it is and I really have to get busy making my picks for this weekend’s football games.
GAMEDAY MAC & MEX
- 8 TBS Butter
- 1/2 cup Flour
- 1 TB Salt
- 1 tsp White Pepper
- 1 tsp Nutmeg
- 1 LB box of elbow macaroni
- 1 qt Milk (warmed)
- 6 cups Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican Mix
- 1 – 15oz can of Black Beans, rinsed
- 2 – 4oz can of Chiles, chopped
- 1 cup Green Onions, chopped
- 2 Avocados, chopped
- 2 TBS Fresh Cilantro, chopped
- 2 cups Salsa
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Set 4 to 6 quarts of salted water to boil for the macaroni. Add pasta when water boils and cook for 6 to 7 minutes until al dente. Remove from heat. Strain and return the pasta to a large mixing bowl. Add 2 TBS of butter. Stir & set aside.
3. Melt remaining 6 TBS of butter in a large sauté pan. Slowly whisk in flour and continue stirring for 2 to 3 minutes until roux is smooth & golden. Slowly add warm milk and stir until silky in texture. Add in salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat and slowly stir in 6 cups of Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican Mix. Keep stirring until cheese has all melted and sauce is thick.
4. Pour over pasta and begin to fold in black beans, green onions, chiles, avocados & cilantro. When well mixed, transfaer to a 13X9 glass baking dish.
5. Spoon up to 2 cups of salsa across the top in swirls or lines.
6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until top is beginning to brown or the sides are bubbling.
7. Let rest for a few minutes to settle before serving.
8. Can garnish with sour cream, hot sauce, more cilantro or more salsa