Wondering to do with any leftover wild pig ham you might have from last week’s smoking project? Add it to macaroni and cheese and serve at a college football party, of course. This recipe is an amalgamation of my girlfriend T. Rebel’s recipe for macaroni and cheese and my mom’s long-standing recipe. T. Rebel started it as I was busy putting in duck blinds Saturday, and then I finished it up as she got ready for the party. Because of the too-many-cooks rule, you are blessed with what started as a béchamel sauce and finished, unapologetically, with Velveeta. That’s double the creaminess. If you think you’re better than processed-cheese food, feel free to substitute the Velveeta with some shredded sharp cheddar and Gruyere. Me, I’m sticking with the strange, orange-ish brick of my youth.
Smoked Ham Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound rotini or macaroni
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cup milk, warmed in the microwave
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 to 2 cups of Velveeta, cut into cubes
1 cup smoked ham, diced
1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Throw in a pinch or two of salt and add the pasta. Stir and cook until just al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate. Continue stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes until the floury taste cooks out. Slowly stir in the warm milk until a sauce forms. Add the dry mustard, paprika, and salt.
Stir the cheese into the béchamel sauce a little bit at a time, letting the cubes melt before adding more.
Once all the cheese has been added, put the pasta back into the large pot and set it over low heat. Pour in the cheese sauce and add the smoked ham. Stir well to ensure all the pasta is well coated. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired creaminess is reached.
Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray and pour in the macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle the pepper jack cheese over the top and place the casserole in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the shredded cheese is melted.