A Little History in your Mac and Cheese for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving means turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce…lots of Cava and wine, and for me this Mac and Cheese recipe!
We created this recipe when we opened American Eats Tavern in Washington, DC. We traced the history of the dish back to James Hemings, an enslaved cook working for Thomas Jefferson, who learned about the technique when Jefferson brought him to France to learn to cook. Hemings, whose sister was the enslaved woman Sally Hemings (who had children with Jefferson), was a free man when he was in France. Then when Jefferson returned to the US, James came with him…back into his enslaved life, to continue to cook for Jefferson. The way the world worked, to imagine that, is very hard.
Now this is our 3.0 adaptation of that recipe…first from America Eats Tavern, and now on the menu at one of my new restaurants at the Conrad Hotel Los Angeles, called San Laurel…and here is a video of our Executive Chef Jeffry Chen making it.
Instead of traditional pasta like elbows, this recipe is made from fideos, the short, thin vermicelli-like noodle we use all the time in Spain (did you know that Spaniards invented pasta???). Part of the magic is that we toast the noodles first, which really brings out the nuttiness.
Adding the Idiazábal cheese brings a little bit more of my homeland of Spain into such a traditional American dish. Then we get a little crazy at the end by topping it off with fried shallots, to give it a great salty texture in every bite. It’s maybe like those crispy fried onions that you might have had on a green bean casserole as a kid. This is a dish of memory, and I hope it brings back good ones and helps you make new ones! Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving Mac & Cheese
1 shallot, sliced 1/8” thick
½ cup rice flour, plus more as needed