Yeah, for those of you who’ve never been to the ‘teensy weensy’ Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, you may be a little confused why I’ve listed this pasta dish as a Trinidadian concoction. Well even I wonder why! I just know that macaroni pie is something every body does make in Trinidad. You’ll find macaroni pie in eateries everywhere along the length and breath of this sunny twin island republic usually as a sidekick to fried rice, stewed or baked chicken, stew red beans and callaloo, with some ground provisions thrown in. Makes you feel hungry doesn’t it?
It’s as to be expected with cheesy gooey delights a favorite of adults and children; I am huge fan as well. But then I can happily eat pasta and pizza every day of the week. In my last life I suspect I was Italian and one day I hope to dedicate a year to chomp my way through Italy’s culinary attractions.
I’ve been wondering how this reached our white sandy shores. Was it the Americans with their base in Chaguaramas in the Second World War? Was it some unknown Italian who came and changed our culinary landscape forever and disappeared unknown into history. Or was it some nameless trini cook who made this hallowed discovery when pondering what to do with the long hard strings of dough that is macaroni? We might never know, but whoever it was, we are eternally grateful.
A word about ingredients: use 100% durum wheat macaroni as this will not be gummy when boiled. I used Swiss Macaroni but you can use any brand you prefer The cheddar cheese we get in Trinidad I don’t know if that is available in the US as my aunt always asks family who are visiting her in the US to bring a few blocks since she can’t find it there. The one I used did not have a brand name. You can use Anchor cheddar cheese as we get that brand in Trinidad or I guess any other cheddar cheese will do. I used normal, ‘Stay-fresh” milk (now Nestle), not evaporated milk; the milk does get creamier when the sauce boils down but you can substitute a little evaporated milk for some normal milk. I did not want it to taste too milky but you’re free to use more if that’s more your thing.
I present to you Trini Macaroni Pie. Beware its quite addictive.
Type Side-dish, Starch,
Time 30 mins Prep + 45 mins cooking
400g/14.1oz pack macaroni (100% durum semolina)
3 tb Butter (room temperature)
5 tb flour
3 c or more cheddar cheese grated
4 c milk (normal or evaporated or a combination)
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 ¼ tsp Salt (extra for salted water)
1 tsp Sugar
1tsp vegetable oil
1. Put a large pot of well salted water to boil. Add macaroni when the water starts to boil and add oil. When the macaroni is cooked but firm drain and reserve.
2. Grate the cheese. Measure out the milk and have ready.
3. Heat a large pot on low heat. Mix the butter and flour together and add to the pot. Stir until the flour smells cooked and not raw. This should take about 5 minutes but be careful not to burn. Once the flour is cooked start adding milk a ½ c at a time while whisking so that there are no lumps of flour. Continue whisking until all of the milk is added. Mix until the mixture thickens. This will take about 10 mins or less.
4. Mix in salt, sugar and black pepper and take off stove and cool sauce for a few minutes. Take 2c of the cheese and add a little at a time while mixing to melt into sauce. Add macaroni and mix well to coat with sauce. Add ¼ c of cheese now and mix gently.
5. Pour into a greased circular pan or a rectangular pan. Top with rest of cheese or more if you like.
6. Bake at 350 for 45 mins. You can broil on low for 5 mins if you want the top golden.
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