This cheesy baked pasta dish is a comfort food staple in the West Indies and super easy to make.
Caribbean Macaroni pie shouldn't be mistaken for a traditional macaroni and cheese recipe because they are completely different.
This version of macaroni and cheese is a lot more playful and a little bit sweet. It's also great for taking on picnics or as a nice healthy carbohydrate to accompany your barbecue meat.
The sweet flavour of this recipe also makes it a winner with kids. Macaroni pie is also very versatile because it can be eaten hot, straight out of the oven, lukewarm, at room temperature or even cold straight out of the refrigerator.
Macaroni pie history
Some of the first recipes of macaroni pie emerged in 19th century United States. According to the Netflix series High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, hosted by food writer Stephen Satterfield, macaroni pie was introduced into American cuisine by African slaves who only had access to very limited ingredients, which forced them to become extremely creative in the kitchen.
Thanks to the great taste, fun factor and versatility of this dish, Macaroni pie soon established itself as a very popular recipe in all walks of life in the United States and the Caribbean.
A le Creuset casserole pot works wonderfully for making this delicious dish but any pot that can go in the oven or a baking tray work well also.
There are many takes on macaroni pie. In Scotland, they cover the macaroni contents in a pastry pie top - very carby but probably delicious. However, you make macaroni pie, the main ingredients remain the same - macaroni, cheese and milk.
The version we've made is less sweet than the traditional mcaraoni pie you would find in the Caribbean because we have used regular full-fat milk instead of condensed milk as they do in the West Indies and the United States.
A little bit of sweetness, however, is a must if you want to really wow your dinner guests. In this recipe, we've used a bit of honey. Milk and cheese go so well with honey. It's the stuff Moses and his followers crossed the Red Sea for. To reach Israel, the land of milk and honey!
Bible lesson over, so let's turn our attention to actually making this beauty of a recipe. You're going to love this.
Caribbean Macaroni & Cheese Pie Ingredients
The list of ingredients are readily available in all major supermarkets. We have stuck to the very minimum needed but a quick google search will give you ideas of other ingredients you can add to put your stamp on it. Everyone else seems to do make their own version, so why not you?
400g Garofalo Elbow Macaroni
400g Cheese (variety of hard cheese is best)
400g Whole Milk (organic is best)
2 Medium sized eggs
One whole onion, Diced
1 of 2 garlic cloves
Heaped teaspoon of salt
Heaped teaspoon of sugar
In terms of the cheese, we recommend you use a variety of three types. Hard to medium cheese works best because as the cooked macaroni pie rests and cools, the hard cheese content will ensure that the pie is firm so that you can slice it into chunks without it breaking apart.
Cheese such as Gruyere, Jarlsberg and a medium mature cheddar. Feel free to experiment with your favourite cheese until you find a taste and texture combination that hits the spot.
Start by boiling the pasta until fully cooked, not aldente. The pasta needs to be soft. As soon as the pasta is fully cooked, drain and then run the pasta under a cold water to stop the cooking process and quickly bring the pasta to room temperature (very important).
Set the past aside and finely dice the onion and fry in butter with the thyme and garlic until golden. Turn off heat and spoon in the honey and salt. Add the onion mixture to the pasta and set aside.
Next is the wet ingredients. Before you begin, preheat the oven to 140 degrees and also grease your cooking pot or tray. We've used a Le Creuset casserole dish but you can use any pot that can be placed in the oven. Even a baking tray is fine.
Now in a separate bowl, crack the eggs in and whisk. Then add the milk. In a separate bowl grate the cheese (use a semi-large grate size). Now simply pour the milk and egg mixture two thirds (the other one third is for the topping) of the cheese into the pasta and onion. Mix well and transfer to the greased baking tin/pot.
Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese evenly on the top of the pasta and then evenly sprinkle the teaspoon of sugar all over the cheese topping. The sugar will help to add a nice crisp brown topping to the finished dish.
Place in the oven (do not cover) and bake for 30-40 minutes, until all the milk has evaporated and the cheese top is golden brown.
Remove from the oven, cover and allow to cool for 1 or 2 hours, until it reaches room temperature. You can enjoy your macaroni cheese bake straight out of the oven but it won't slice into chunks until it cools so best to leave to rest.
After it has rested well, you can now slice it while still in the baking tray/pot. Use a fish slice to remove the slices and serve.
You can also refrigerate for a day or two and eat cold, straight out of the fridge. However, it's best enjoyed at room temperature so if you have cooled it off in the fridge, take it out and allow it to come to room temperature before consuming.