Creamy, dreamy, cheesy pasta with a little sweet and a little spice. Try this Cranberry Chorizo Macaroni and Cheese for a totally new spin on the old comfort dish favorite.
Ohhh heyyy there! Lookie at this dish, right? So I was sent a nice big bag of cranberry lovelies, which I used for my last recipe post, Mini Sausage Party Tarts with Cranberry Mango Compote (long name, cute little tart), and so here I am cranking out another winner, Cranberry Chorizo Macaroni and Cheese.
I received a complementary bag of Cape Cod Select Cranberries as incentive to enter a recipe contest. I have received no other compensation.
Macaroni and cheese is, for me, like pizza, the best of all foods. I met someone once that didn’t like mac and cheese. They said something about lack of texture or something and I was all like, “Well, mac and cheese is flexible, you can add stuff!” And I love to add stuff to macaroni and cheese. Hence, my recipes like this one that I love so much.
There are couple keys to mac and cheese. First, it is always a simple ratio: 2:2:2:1:2. Two tablespoons unsalted butter, two tablespoons all-purpose flour, two cups milk (I upped the milk another half cup for this recipe), one teaspoon Dijon (I used 2 in this recipe, so I broke my own rule there again), and two cups cheese (another rule I broke in this recipe). Basically, if you follow the 2:2:2:1:2 formula (or not), then you can add whatever else you want and have yourself some crazy good, creative macaroni and cheese.
This Cranberry Chorizo Macaroni and Cheese specifically is just as it says. First, we cook up some Spanish chorizo with a little onion, jalapeno, and Cape Cod Select Premium Cranberries. If you have not heard of Cape Cod Cranberries yet, this is a women-owned, small family business with an 800 acre farm (solar powered facilities too!), and they’ve been growing cranberries for 75 years. I prefer frozen cranberries anyway, and since I grew up in New England, you know cranberries appear regularly in my dishes, even though I live in Florida now.
Then we make our cheesy sauce and toss it all together with the chorizo-cranberry mixture and pasta, top with panko, bake, and ta-dah! Easy as that.
So that’s it folks. If you love macaroni and cheese and make it often, like I do, then you need to have fun with it and TRY this recipe! A little kick from the sausage and jalapeno, a little sweet/tart from the cranberry, and all the comforting love in the world.
Cranberry Chorizo Macaroni and Cheese
- 1/2 Tbs + 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil divided
- 8 oz Spanish chorizo sausage small dice
- 1 small yellow onion small dice
- 2 Tbs pickled jalapeno diced
- 1 cup heaping Cape Cod Select Premium Cranberries, halved
- 8 oz pasta of choice such as elbows or bowties
- 2 Tbs unsalted butter
- 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
- 2-1/2 cups milk
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2-1/2 cups shredded cheese see Notes
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
Heat oven to 350F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Heat 1/2 Tbs olive oil in a large nonstick skillet on med-high heat. Add chorizo, onion, jalapeno, and cranberries. Cook, tossing often, until chorizo is lightly browned and cranberries and onion are softened. Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the pasta to cook al dente according to package directions.
Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Heat the butter and flour in a medium saucepan, whisking until smooth. Let bubble a minute to cook the flour, then whisk in the milk, beer, and Dijon. Heat, stirring constantly, until warm and remove from heat. Add the salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil.
Add the cheeses and pasta to the sauce at the same time, as well as the cranberry-chorizo mixture. Stir until well combined. Note that the cheese doesn't have to be completely melted. Transfer to a 13x9 bake dish. Top with the panko crumbs.
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes until bubbly and golden on top. Yields 6 servings.
Don't you love recipes that tell you to use what you have on hand? I used 1 cup sharp white cheddar, 1 cup colby/jack, and 1/2 cup parmesan. Just stick with light/white cheeses and you'll be fine. Same goes for the pasta, just use what'cha got in the cupboard.