By: Fatima Syed

Recently, I was tasked with the enticing culinary challenge of creating a main, hot dish for a good girlfriend’s bachelorette party. As one of the bridesmaids for this upcoming Summer 2019 wedding, I helped my fellow bridal party members with the menu planning and execution for a 90s’ inspired sleepover weekend. When I think back to the 1990s, I instantly think of comfort food classics from my own childhood. Perhaps not surprisingly, the cheesy, calorie-laden goodness of macaroni and cheese tops my list of crowd pleasers from this simple era.

However, I wanted to rejuvenate old school mac and cheese for our current demographic, a group of busy, young Millennial women whose palettes have also matured since the decade of the Spice Girls, NSYNC and terrible bangs. Exploring my creativity as an avid home cook, I decided to create my own three-cheese Mac and Cheese recipe, with the luxurious additions of grilled T-bone steak and sauteed mushrooms.

I strongly believe that everyone has a cooking persona, from the health-conscious gym fanatics who believe in weekly meal prep to the Instagram influencers whose cheer and energy echo in their flawless kitchens. Those who know me well know that I strongly dislike following instructions- as evidenced by my decision to head a rather unconventional, disruptive and fully digital media company. In fact, my inner rebellion and general subversiveness also extend to the kitchen, where measurements are taken with a grain of salt (pun not intended) and family traditions are duly ignored. In fact, I am the foodie who prefers to eschew cookbooks, online recipes and YouTube videos in favour of my life’s philosophy- pure creative experimentation mixed with calculated risk.

A major issue of mine is also portion control and portion sizes when I develop my own unique recipes. Despite being a petite, mobile woman in her late 20s, I cook like a suburban mom 15 years my senior who needs to feed her four growing sons before soccer practice. In other words, I cook far too much for whichever occasion it is, which means leftovers are enthusiastically shoved at guests departing from any parties that I host or co-host, and I end up having extra lunch and dinner for a couple of days. Since unnecessarily wasting food is an ultimate pet peeve of mine, I usually stick to a combination of the two above options!

This brings us to the culinary process behind inFATuatedEATS’ Luxury Mac and Cheese casserole. You will need the following ingredients:

  1. One package of elbow macaroni (use one and a half packages for a larger portion- READ: if like myself, you somehow accidentally cook like you are feeding a family sizeable enough for its own reality TV show, or a football team)
  2. Three types of cheese (shredded jalapeno cheddar, gouda and Parmesan petals)
  3. Olive oil, butter and 2% milk
  4. One T-bone steak
  5. One package of sliced mushrooms
  6. Sea salt, black pepper and dehydrated green onions
  7. Sriracha sauce
  8. Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  9. One lime

Start off with boiling your pasta, and leave a bit of water behind once you drain the boiled water. Next, pour a bit of olive oil into a non-stick frying pan and lightly melt your shredded jalapeno cheddar on the stovetop. Once your cheddar and macaroni noodles are ready, grab a deep casserole dish and layer your macaroni with the cheddar. Next, add milk, a light squirt of olive oil and Sriracha for flavour and liberally sprinkle the other cheeses (Parmesan and gouda), on top of your mixture in the casserole dish. Use a spatula to stir and even out all ingredients. Pop in a preheated oven (350 degrees Celsius) for 10 minutes, or as long as it takes for all of your cheeses, oil and sauce to melt together.

While your oven is in action, your stove will have to work just as hard to make this a team effort. Start off by lightly pan frying your sliced mushrooms in a non-stick pan, with a combination of a bit of lime juice, sea salt, olive oil and melted butter. Add a sprinkle of breadcrumbs and green onions for texture and colour. Next, grill your T-bone steak on the stove in a non-stick pan, with olive oil, butter, sea salt and black pepper. Remove the steak once cooked to medium, and cut into thick steak strips.

At this point, your oven timer should go off. Take the casserole dish out of the oven, and arrange the steak strips and seasoned mushrooms on top. Gently stir into the whole dish, and then top off with more green onions, breadcrumbs and some scattered Parmesan petals. Warm the entire dish for about five minutes, and then remove from the oven once heated. At this point, you should have a tempting and rich macaroni and cheese casserole.

Enjoy (preferably not solo- we recommend sharing with a group of friends for a night in, or bringing to your next family BBQ or dinner party).

Photos: Fatima Syed

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