Hattie B’s Pimento Mac & Cheese!

“This is our version of a Southern classic, a favorite at meat-and-threes throughout the South. We add pimentos, the perfect complement to the extra sharp cheddar cheese. The secret to this delicious, creamy Mac is the roux.”  — John Lasater, executive chef, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Nashville—  
Ingredients 
• Milk- 1/2 gallon (2 qts.) 

• Crushed Red Pepper- 1.5 teaspoons 

• Salt- 1.5 Tablespoons 

• Black Pepper- 1.5 teaspoons 

Steps: 
Combine all of these ingredients in a 4- 5 Qt. stock pot and bring to a simmer…. Do not boil or it may cause milk to scorch! 
  
Ingredients for the Roux 
• Butter- 1/2 pound 

• All Purpose Flour- 1/2 pound 

Note: It’s important to measure out ingredients for a roux—equals parts butter to flour.  
  
Steps: 
In a small sauce pot (1qt), melt all of the butter completely.Once butter is melted, add the flour all at once. 
Whisk to combine the ingredients into a smooth mixture. Simmer the roux for 5 minutes to make sure all of the raw flour is cooked out. Once it has simmered for five minutes, add all of the roux into the simmering milk mixture. Make sure the milk mixture is at a simmer so the roux makes an immediate bond. Whisk very well. The sauce will become thick; simmer this entire mixture for an additional 5-10 minutes. 
Tip: For a roux to hit its maximum thickening power, it must be simmered.  
 
Ingredients to Finish 
• Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (the sharper the better) 

• 1.5 pounds plus 1 cup (to top the mac at the end) – grated 

• Diced Pimentos – 10 oz jar- “juice and all” or chop a roasted red pepper for maximum flavor  

• Butter- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) 


Step to finish sauce:  
Place the diced pimentos “juice and all” along with the 1.5 pounds of cheese and diced butter. Melt all of these ingredients completely. Turn flame off at this point so you don’t scorch cheese and give it a really good whisk. The more you whisk, the faster it will melt. Cool sauce down completely in a 3-quart storage container. This helps relax the gluten so it heats up beautifully. 
  
PASTA 
Elbow macaroni – 1 pound (uncooked) 
Cook in salted boiling water until al dente, about 7-8 minutes for most pastas. 
Strain when finished. 
Yields about 8 cups 
Next, pre-heat over to 375 degrees. 
  
MIXING DIRECTIONS 
Things you will need: 
1 qt measuring vessel 
 Rubber spatula 
10 x 12 in baking dish (1/2 hotel pan) 
Mixing bowl 
Timer 
Steps: 
Mix your cheese and pasta – 2 quarts of cheese sauce to 2 quarts of cooked pasta. 
Place cooled cheese sauce in a mixing bowl along with the pasta. Mix until completely combined. 
Scrape the mixture out with the rubber spatula into baking vessel. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, covered. This seems like a long time, but it will take 40 minutes for the cooled cheese sauce to properly get to temp. Once your timer goes off… take mac out and give the whole pan a good stir with the rubber spatula. Smooth everything out and top with 1 cup of shredded cheese. 
Place the mac back in the oven – uncovered – for no more than 5 minutes; just to brown the cheese.
Serve family style and enjoy! 

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