RECIPE: Make Iberian Pig’s Mahon Crema Macaroni and Cheese

Iberian Pig’s Mahon Crema Macaroni and Cheese. (Courtesy of Heidi Geldhauser Harris)
Iberian Pig’s Mahon Crema Macaroni and Cheese. (Courtesy of Heidi Geldhauser Harris)

There’s mac and cheese and then there’s Iberian Pig’s macaroni and cheese. The best ever. How do they make it so flavorful? — Javier Hardin, Atlanta

Iberian Pig’s executive chef John Castellucci explains the inspiration for this side dish. “We wanted to do a Spanish take on a Southern classic using Mahon cheese from the Mediterranean coast of Spain as well as Jamón Ibérico. Mahon melts really well and incorporates into the sauce nicely — it is buttery, sharp, and has a grassy note to it. For the ‘charcuterie crumble,’ we use Jamón Ibérico, the parts of the leg that are harder to get nice slices from, and put them through the meat grinder before getting them crispy with just a little bit of oil. The result is the best type of comfort food with a Spanish twist!”

We found Mahon available at Whole Foods Market. Castellucci notes that the restaurant likes using garganelli pasta because it has little pockets to hold the sauce.

The primary recipe is the sauce, but the Gremolata and the charcuterie crumble are what take this dish over the top. This is a dish where all the components can be prepared ahead of time, then assembled when you’re ready to serve.

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Iberian Pig’s Mahon Crema Macaroni and Cheese

If you’d like, divide the sauced pasta into individual ovenproof dishes. Top with some additional grated Mahon and run under the broiler until the cheese melts. Then top with the charcuterie crumble and Gremolata. To make your own charcuterie crumble, finely chop your favorite ham, then saute in a little oil just until mixture is crisp. Drain and use right away or cool and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Iberian Pig’s Mahon Crema Macaroni and Cheese
  • 1 pound garganelli pasta, cooked
  • Mahon Crema (see recipe), warm
  • Charcuterie crumble (see notes)
  • Gremolata (see recipe)
  • If preparing the pasta ahead of time, cook and then keep warm. When ready to serve, in a large bowl, combine pasta with Mahon Crema. Portion into individual servings and top each with charcuterie crumble and Gremolata. Serves 12.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 399 calories (percent of calories from fat, 40), 13 grams protein, 47 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 18 grams total fat (10 grams saturated), 50 milligrams cholesterol, 240 milligrams sodium.
Mahon Crema
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 pound Mahon, grated
  • Salt
  • In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot and saute until vegetables are transparent, about 4 minutes. Stir in cumin and coriander. Add flour and whisk until there are no lumps. Add white wine and cook mixture over medium-high heat until the liquid reduces by half, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium, stir in milk and cream and bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in Mahon and taste for seasoning. Simmer 15 minutes, whisking frequently so the mixture does not scorch. Pour sauce into a blender and process until smooth. If not using right away, cool and refrigerate in a covered container. May be made up to 3 days in advance. Makes 5 cups.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per 1/4 cup: 145 calories (percent of calories from fat, 79), 4 grams protein, 4 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 13 grams total fat (8 grams saturated), 38 milligrams cholesterol, 84 milligrams sodium.
Gremolata
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup panko
  • 2 small cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • Zest of 1/4 lemon
  • In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add panko and stir until panko begins to turn a light golden brown. Stir in garlic. Continue cooking until mixture is golden brown. Remove from heat and taste for seasoning. Allow mixture to cool, then stir in parsley and lemon zest. Store at room temperature. Makes 1 cup.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per tablespoon: 66 calories (percent of calories from fat, 26), 2 grams protein, 11 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 4 milligrams cholesterol, 30 milligrams sodium.

From the menu of . . . Iberian Pig, 3150 Roswell Road, Atlanta. 404-994-4990, theiberianpigatl.com/buckhead.

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