One Pot Hawaiian Macaroni and Cheese
I don’t know, I’m already thinking about one pot back to school meals and my toddler doesn’t even GO back to school. And we’re not even really close to back to school time. I think maybe, I just want pasta. That’s it.
But not just ANY pasta…. One Pot Hawaiian Macaroni and Cheese– O.M.G. This vision came to me in the wee hours of the morning (Okay, more like, 7am but I consider that to be a wee hour). I do my best “food thinking” at this hour because my brain is rejuvenated and I’m hungry. Do you think about food first thing in the morning too? Or am I a freak show?
The idea started when I was reminiscing about Hawaiian sandwiches that I used to have as a kid with Pineapple, Ham, and melted cheese on an English muffin. (Good Lord, it doesn’t get any better than that)- Unless you’re eating the same delicious combination in mac & cheese form. And then, and only then, does it get even better.
The dish starts out by simply searing some pineapple in a little butter on the stovetop (my mouth is watering already). Then you remove the pineapple, whip up some mac & cheese in the same pot, add the pineapple back in along with a diced up ham steak and voila! You’ve got a comforting Hawaiian feast and only a single pot to clean. It’s magical.
What’s one of your old childhood favorite meals!? I’m still going to make myself one of those Hawaiian sandwiches this week…. Mmmmm.
- 2 cups pineapple, cubed
- 4 + ½ Tablespoons Butter, separated
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 + ½ cups water
- 2 + ½ cups Cavatappi pasta (you can also use elbow macaroni!)
- 2 + ¼ cups shredded cheese (Cheddar, Colby, Gruyere, Cheddar Jack, etc. are all good ones)*
- 8 oz. ham steak (equals 2 cups diced cooked ham)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- Salt and pepper
- Melt one Tablespoon of butter in a dutch oven or large pot. Add the cubed pineapple and cook on medium-high heat, stirring often, until the pineapple begins to brown. Remove it from the pot and set aside.
- Melt the remaining 3+1/2 Tablespoons of butter and add the flour, whisking constantly. Cook for 1 minute to rid it of the raw flour taste.
- Warm the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds and slowly whisk it into the flour mixture.
- Add the water and seasonings, then add the pasta. Stir occasionally as it heats.
- When it begins to steam as you mix, reduce the heat to medium low.
- Let the pasta bubble gently as you stir occasionally, for 9 minutes. At this point the pasta should be almost done, the sauce will still be a little thin.
- Add the cooked/diced ham.
- Remove the pasta from the heat and gently stir in the cheese and ham with a rubber spatula. The sauce will thicken as it absorbs the remaining moisture and the cheese. The pasta will also finish cooking as it’s still very hot.
If you find that it’s not thick enough, you can continue to heat it on the stove at a very low temperature, be careful not to overcook your pasta!
Making pasta in a single pot helps it to really absorb the cheese and/or sauce better. This is because the starch from the pasta releases into the sauce as it cooks which makes the sauce stick to the pasta better.
This recipe is very forgiving, you can use any combination of cheeses that you have: I used both mild and sharp cheddar, a little bit of mozzarella, and a few chunks of Velveeta! Mozzarella melts well, but the taste won’t be strong enough if you solely use mozzarella. Other good variations include Cheddar Jack, Colby, and Gruyere. Have fun with it!