I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself for making this. Mostly because I came up with the idea and recipe (mostly) and, believe it or not, it actually tasted like pizza. Doing this was a bit of a whim. I got the idea of seeing if I could get mac and cheese to taste like pizza. It was driven by this (seemingly) never ending package of pepperoni we have in the fridge. I was trying to figure out how to use it up. In the end, I used some, but not all of it.
Now, to the recipe. I used this recipe as my base. It has become my “go to” mac and cheese recipe that I’ve used several times with great results. I followed it making the changes/additions below.
I went with 12 ounces of pasta (small shells) to start with. I’ve found that, for the dish I use, a full pound is too much. The recipe says to cook a pound and then don’t use all of it but then you have leftover pasta. Plus, using the smaller amount adjusts the ratio of pasta and cheese to make it creamier. I cooked the pasta for 9 minutes and drained it right away.
Once the béchamel sauce was thick I added
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon each of oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, onion powder, salt
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
I then added the cheese. I used two cups of an Italian blend of cheeses and about a half cup of plain mozzarella. Once the cheese was melted, I mixed it with the pasta. I then added the meat which was a handful of pepperoni cut into quarters, a handful of chopped cooked bacon, and a full pound of plain pork sausage. I was going to go with only about a half pound of sausage but ended up putting it all in. I guess you could say this was a meat lovers pizza. I had thought about adding some other stuff but honestly, that was more work.
I poured that into a greased baking dish (2 1/2 quarts) and sprinkled it with a half cup of mozzarella. I then baked it per instructions and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
As I said before, it tasted just like pizza and, in my opinion, was fantastic. The only complaint I got was from the 8 year old who told me she didn’t like pepperoni but she ate it all anyway. I definitely recommend the base recipe for making mac and cheese.