Hye Thyme Cafe: Turkey and Stuffing Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)


Monday, July 8, 2013

Turkey and Stuffing Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Turkey and Stuffing Baked Macaroni and Cheese


I was standing in front of the pantry one day trying to decide what to make for dinner, and the container of stuffing sitting next to the pasta caught my eye.  I started thinking about using the stuffing in place of breadcrumbs on top of a baked macaroni and cheese.  Following that, I naturally had to add turkey to the mix.

I have a confession to make ... I also wanted to add some dried cranberries, but I was afraid it would turn into a pink mess, so you will not see them in my step-by-step photos.  I filled my casserole dish, then stirred some cranberries into one side so I could try it, but if it didn't turn out well, you would never have to know.  Yup, I'm sneaky that way.  Turns out the cranberries didn't run like I was afraid they would, and I definitely think they added to the dish, so sprinkle away!!



INGREDIENTS :
Mise en place
1 lb elbow macaroni
Turkey broth (optional)
Butter
Grated Parmesan
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4 T flour
4 T butter
2 1/2 c milk
2 T Philadelphia Herb and Garlic Cooking Creme
1 lb muenster cheese, chopped or shredded
4 slices American cheese
Mise en place
3-4 oz additional cheese (optional)
1/2 t black pepper
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2 c cooked turkey, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 c dried cranberries
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1 c herbed stuffing mix
1 T minced shallot or onion
Butter



Boil the pasta to al dente in salted water, turkey broth, or a combination of the two.  The turkey broth adds an extra boost of flavor.  If you like the idea of that but can't find turkey broth, you could certainly use chicken broth instead.


Toss cooked noodles with butter and Parmesan.Drain the pasta, then toss with about a tablespoon of butter and a sprinkling of Parmesan, and set aside.







Over medium heat, whisk together the butter and flour to create a blonde roux.  Once it starts to take on some color, whisk in a splash of the milk to loosen it up so you don't get lumps, then whisk in the rest of the milk.

Use 4T each butter and flour to create a roux.
Add the milk and bring up to a boil to thicken.









Whisking frequently to prevent burning, let that come up to a boil and start to thicken, then whisk in the cooking creme for additional flavor and creaminess.  If you want to skip the cooking creme (the cheese mix will be plenty creamy without it), you could add a little garlic powder or minced garlic for additional flavor.  

Next you will want to break up and add the American cheese.  I like to add that first because it has that nice creamy texture to help melt down the other cheeses.  Just make sure you use real American cheese and not the plastic tasting oily singles.  I have no idea what those might do to your dish.

A little at a time, start whisking in the Muenster and any other cheese you might be including.  When I make my usual Baked Macaroni and Cheese, I like to throw in some pepperjack and maybe some extra jalapenos.  You might want to add a chunk of cheddar or something else hanging out in your fridge.  This time, I had a chunk of colby-jack, so I added that to the party.  Just don't go much over 5-6 oz or you might throw off the texture.  Don't panic if that does happen, just add a little more milk to get it creamy again.

Add the cheeses, a little at a time until melted.


Stir half of the cheese sauce into the noodles.

Give your pasta a stir to loosen it up again, then pour about half of the cheese sauce over it, stirring well to fill in all those elbows.





Stir in your add-ins, then additional sauce.
Next stir in the turkey, then enough additional cheese to make it nice and goopy - but not flooded over the top - you don't want to end up with a flat layer of cheese on the top of your casserole!  Stir in the cranberries last, to limit any color bleeds.


Transfer the mix to a buttered casserole dish.

For the topping, toss the stuffing into a plastic bag and use a rolling pin, meat mallet, your first - whatever works for you - to crush it.  You could give it a quick pulse in the food processor, but that would mean extra clean-up, and you don't want to process it too fine.  This will be quick work for many of you, but personally, I prefer my stuffing in croutette form, so those cubes definitely required crushing.  

Toss the stuffing with the minced shallot or onion and sprinkle evenly over the top of your pasta. Add a few dots of butter here and there, then bake at 325 for about an hour until the top is golden and you can see the cheese bubbling on the sides.

Bake at 325 for one hour until golden and bubbly.

Let rest for a while if you want to be able to cut it rather than scooping.


It will be super hot when it comes out, so be sure to let it rest for at least a few minutes before digging in.  If you're concerned with presentation, note that the longer it sits, the cleaner it will cut.  If the cheese is still extremely hot, it will be oozy and more amenable to scooping with a big serving spoon than portioning out with a spatula.

If you have any extra sauce, refrigerate it to use in the next few days as a topping for vegges, or to serve over savory crepes, etc.

Turkey and Stuffing Baked Macaroni and Cheese






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