Yes, you read that title correctly. Macaroni and cheese are kicked up a notch with hot sauce and then cooled down with crunchy cornichons.
The idea of putting pickles on spicy macaroni and cheese came from our local food truck Mac Genie. Rahul and I tried it one time and we knew this idea was a killer and had to be recreated at home.
If you’re turning your nose up at me, let me explain. Spicy foods need something to counteract their heat unless you just enjoy burning your taste buds. Cornichons, which are tiny cucumbers called gherkins, are picked to create a tangy, tart and cool punch. When paired with the spicy macaroni and cheese the two create a harmonic balance of heat and tang.
Maille Cornichons are my preferred pickled gherkin. Inside the glass jar is a small green handle that you pull, which brings the cornichons out of the signature pickled liquid so you can easily pick them up and eat them. Tarragon, baby onions, cloves and mustard seeds are a few of the aromatics that Maille uses in their recipe.
Cornichons may be eaten whole, but I needed smaller pieces for this recipe so I diced a handful of them to mix in with the macaroni and cheese. You could do this with your favorite dill pickles if you wanted, but you won’t chance to get any soggy pickle parts on your macaroni and cheese if you go with the crispy cornichons.
The macaroni and cheese recipe is based off my Creamy Gruyere, White Cheddar, and Parmesan Macaroni and Cheese, a new staple in our house. The key is the gruyere, white cheddar, and parmesan cheeses, which melt perfectly and then stick together after baking.
You know what this recipe would be good for? Fried macaroni and cheese bites. Coming soon.
Hot sauce is the key to this recipe. I used Sriracha, my favorite, but only 2 tablespoons, which was just the right amount of heat for eating this as our main dish. You could add more, or add it on top of your serving for a bright red contrast, but remember that each hot sauce also has a flavor along with the heat. Sriracha has a distinct garlic flavor, so 2 tablespoons were just enough garlic and heat so I could still taste the delicious cheese.
Spicy Macaroni and Cheese with Cornichons
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 3/4 cups whole milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dried yellow mustard
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated gruyere cheese
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated white cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
- 1/2 box elbow macaroni
- 1/2 cup chopped Maille Cornichons
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease or spray a 2-quart baking dish with butter.
- In a small saucepan, heat the whole milk over medium heat until warm.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium sized saucepan. Add the flour and whisk, cooking for one minute. Add the warm milk and whisk until thick and bubbly. Whisk in salt, dried yellow mustard, black pepper and shredded cheeses until cheeses have melted through. Stir in the hot sauce.
- Set a large pot of water on the stove over high heat to boil for the macaroni. Drop the macaroni and cook about 6 minutes. Drain, then stir the macaroni into the spicy cheese sauce.
- Pour the macaroni and cheese into the greased baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve and top with chopped cornichons.