Hearty comfort food at its best, this Spanish style Macaroni Cheese with Chorizo and Manchego takes the humble mac and cheese to the next level!
I am a bit of a macaroni cheese fan…can you tell? One of the most popular recipes on my site is my Super Simple Macaroni Cheese. I’ve also created Macaroni Cheese with Bacon and Leeks – which is one of my favourite ever recipes, a Three Cheese Macaroni Cheese – with cheddar, mozzarella AND parmesan, and a Butternut Squash Macaroni Cheese version too…and I’m constantly working on new variations (it’s a tough gig!).
One idea I’ve had for ages is to create a Chorizo Macaroni Cheese – basically I love mac and cheese AND I love chorizo…so why not put the two together? But me being me, I wanted to take this to the next level.
Not content with just throwing chorizo into my usual macaroni cheese recipe, I decided to go for the full on Spanish experience and use Spanish cheese too. And one of my favourite cheeses just happens to be Spanish… Manchego!!
Manchego cheese is made from sheep’s milk in the La Mancha region of Spain. It has a lovely nutty sweetness and a slight sharpness, without being too strong. It grates well and melts really well too. To be honest, when I tried it I had no idea if it would work in macaroni cheese, but it was worth a go!
And I am very glad I did try it because it worked brilliantly – the sweet, nutty, salty flavours complimenting the spicy, garlicky flavours of the chorizo and softened by the buttery creaminess of the sauce – mac and cheese heaven!
To add extra texture and flavour I topped this chorizo mac and cheese with my storecupboard favourite: panko breadcrumbs. I love panko breadcrumbs because they can be kept in the cupboard to be used whenever you fancy making a quick and easy crunchy topping for macaroni cheese, pasta bakes, fishcakes or anything else you fancy.
In this recipe I simply mix the panko breadcrumbs with more of that delicious manchego cheese and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni cheese before popping in the oven – couldn’t be simpler!
And of course, it’s very easy to make too. You can whip this Spanish Style Macaroni Cheese up in under half an hour, and yet it feels totally luxurious and treaty. It well down well with the kids too, who love chorizo, making it a perfect midweek meal.
I feel with the Spanish flavours of chorizo and manchego, this macaroni cheese needs a Spanish wine to go with it, and my choice to cut through the creamy, cheesy, spiciness of this dish would be a gutsy Rioja Rosado or a young red Rioja (or similar style wines from other regions of Spain). If you’d rather a white a zingy zesty Sauvignon Blanc would work well with this too.
Spanish style Macaroni Cheese with Chorizo and Manchego
- 300 g macaroni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 150 g chorizo diced
- 25 g butter
- 1 onion diced
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 500 ml milk
- Black pepper to taste
- 200 g manchego cheese (or another hard cheese such as cheddar or parmesan)
- 50 g panko breadcrumbs
- Green salad to serve
- Pre heat your oven to 220C / 200C fan / gas mark 7 / 425F.
- Cook the macaroni in plenty of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes less than you would normally do it. This is important, or your macaroni will end up soggy and stodgy. Drain reserving a little of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, heat a wide, oven proof saucepan or cast iron casserole dish over a medium heat and add the olive oil and chorizo. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Tip the chorizo onto a plate.
- Turn down the heat and add the butter to the pan you just used for the chorizo. When the butter is melted add the onions and fry with the lid on for about 3-4 minutes, until the onions are nicely softened. Add the garlic and fry for 1 more minute. Stir occasionally.
- Sprinkle the plain flour over the onions/garlic and stir well, then add the milk very slowly, stirring constantly until thickened. When the sauce is roughly the thickness of double (heavy) cream, add in a few twists of black pepper, the chorizo and 150g/5oz of the cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and then turn the heat off.
- In a small bowl, place the panko breadcrumbs and the remaining 50g/2oz of the cheese. Mix together to make the topping.
- Tip the macaroni into the cheese sauce, together with about a tablespoon of the cooking water, and stir to combine. Scatter the panko topping evenly over the top and place in your preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
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