Kimchi Mac & Cheese with Spam
Kimchi and spam are probably two of my favorite Korean ingredients.
Sunday mornings, my dad used to make us fried kimchi and spam with egg and rice before church. It still is my favorite breakfast.
I didn't really grow up eating mac & cheese but it is a Thanksgiving must usually, to soak up all the booze I drink during Thanksgiving. The kimchi gives a nice crunch and acidity to the mac & cheese and the spam gives it that salty goodness. Hope you enjoy!
2 tablespoons butter (plus more for greasing unsalted, cut into small cubes)
1 cup of kimchi (more ripe the better and if you love kimchi you can add a little more)
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 can of SPAM, chopped in little bits like pancetta
1 1b. of elbow macaroni
8 ounces mozzarella (fresh, grated or cut into small cubes)
1 ½ cups ricotta (fresh)
1 ½ cup whole milk
1⁄4 cup butter
1⁄4 cup flour
1⁄2teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce (or your favorite)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
pinch of salt & pepper
¼ cup bread crumbs (fresh)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese (finely grated)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter a shallow 2-quart dish.
Cut spam in tiny little squares like the shape of pancetta. Add a little butter and some oil and saute spam until they get a little crispy. Takes about 10 minutes.
Add in shallots and kimchi with the spam and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Once the kimchi and shallots soften, set aside.
In a large pot, boil well-salted hot water for the elbow macaroni. Cook pasta al dente, reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce.
In a medium sized saucepan, over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup of butter along with the black pepper. Once bubbling, sprinkle with 1/4 cup of flour. Allow a few moments for the fat to absorb the flour, then stir to combine.
Carefully stir the 1 cup of milk into the mixture and cook until thickened. This generally takes about 10 minutes on my stove.
Remove from heat, and stir in the spam/kimchi mixture, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese,and the shredded cheddar. Stir until the cheddar has melted.
Taste, and add the optional salt if needed. Also you can add a tsp of gochugaru if you want some spice.
Add the pasta to the cheese mixture and toss well to coat. Add about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, or as needed, to loosen the sauce. Pour the mixture into the buttered gratin dish.
In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the pasta. Dot the top of the dish with the butter cubes.
Bake until the dish is hot throughout and the topping has melted, about 20 minutes.
Turn on the broiler and broil the macaroni and cheese until the crumbs are golden brown, about 3 minutes.