Dorothy Porker

Oven-Baked Kimchi Mac and Cheese

A picknick table with a slab of kimchi mac and cheese on top and a blue and white umbrella stuck into it on a yellow background

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As I did in the spring, I am participating in The Little Plantation’s Eat Capture Share Challenge for fall. This is a food photography challenge with different weekly themes. I like the challenges she creates. Someone else feeding me ideas helps me think of new ways to approach photography.

The core ingredients for kimchi mac and cheese, kimchi, macaroni, egg and cheddar slices

Americanos – Blue Jeans and Chinos Coke Pepsi and Oreos

This week, the challenges are all based on well-known TV shows around food. To be honest the last time I watched a Guy Fieri show was probably over a decade ago. I didn’t even sit down to watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives until after I took these photos. But once I did I was reminded of why I love the show. And American food in general.

I’ve always had a fondness for the USA. It probably has something to do with being a pop culture floozy and the fact that most of the music, literature, films and TV shows that got me through some really tough years are American. The sense of escapism that the American Dream never really delivers on will probably never entirely leave me. False hope is hope to, you know?

A close up of some kimchi mac and cheese

Team America

I’m always disappointed when Europeans shit on America. If we didn’t speak all these different languages and were broadcasting our absolute worst to the world no one’d like us either. Hell is other people. They don’t need to be American for that.

I am even more disappointed when I meet people who claim American food is terrible. Like a co-worker who spent a good 4 weeks cruising California and claimed she hadn’t been able to find one single fresh vegetable. In California.

If you can’t find good food in America, let alone fucking California, that is entirely on you.

Dorothy Porker Eats on Google Maps

If you are one of these people, please go find yourself some Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives to watch. Bourdain of course also works. Or use my nifty Dorothy Porker Eats Google map to get you to places that are good.

A map of the world

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

What Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives reminded me of. Beyond it being the reason me and Marloes Coenen ended up at Beer Belly experiencing Death By Duck. Is how America absolutely rules when it comes to comfort food. When it’s good it’s greasy, comforting, lovingly prepared and fresh as hell.

What’s the beef?

I get why people frown at Fieri. Which vaguely reminds me of a guy I dated in the mid-90’s who never really grew up. And maybe opening a restaurant in Times Square and having something called donkey sauce on the menu wasn’t the best idea.

But any guy who has spent a large part of his time platforming hundreds of small independent restaurants is at least doing a little bit right.

A picknick table with a slab of kimchi mac and cheese on top

Finally, I get to the point: kimchi mac and cheese!

All of the above is only tangentially related to the recipe below, which is kimchi mac and cheese! I always wanted to make kimchi mac and cheese, so when me and Nombelina set up a play date where she’d take care of the ribs (and burgers, and cheese, and cookies) and I’d take care of mac, it was the perfect opportunity to finally get it done.

I used an old recipe for a 70’s style mac and cheese as a base. And double the cheese (as one does) and use cream instead of milk if that’s what’s in the fridge.

I think the next time I’ll leave out the bacon and have it with some nice nice thick cuts of Korean pork belly Squirrel’s of a Feather-style on the side.

Variations on kimchi mac and cheese

If you want to make this using your own kimchi, you’ll also need this (store-bought is fine too):

You can use the below as a blueprint for any veg and cheese combo that tickles your fancy. The foundations are the pasta, milk and eggs. You could even omit the eggs and make a more sloppy unctuous mac and cheese instead. Make a roux with the milk and equal parts flour and butter if you’re going this route. The type of cheese(s!), veggies, spices and protein turn it into whatever the hell you need it to be.

Because kimchi already has onion and a lot of other flavors going on, I didn’t add any onions or garlic. The classic has 150 grams of grated onion and a couple cloves of garlic, because everything kinda should.

Oven-Baked Kimchi Mac and Cheese

A solid oven-baked umami rich kimchi mac and cheese recipe that can easily be turned into any other kind of mac and cheese, but honestly: why would you?
Course Dinner, Main course, Side dish
Cuisine American, Asian, Fusion, Korean
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 -6 people
Author Dorothy Porker

Equipment

  • Frying pan, optional - if adding bacon
  • Oven
  • Large pot with lid for boiling pasta
  • Small food processor, optional
  • Small saucepan, for unctuous mac and cheese
  • Ovenproof dish

Ingredients

Bacon optional

  • 1 t - 5 gr gochujang fermented Korean chili paste, get this from an Asian supermarket
  • 1 t - 5 gr honey
  • 1/2 T - 7.5 ml soy sauce
  • 1 c - 150 gr thick unsmoked bacon cut into cubes

For the mac and cheese

  • 2 1/4 c - 225 gr macaroni or other pasta of choice, I'd steer clear of the stringy and flatter variaties
  • 1 c - 250 ml milk other (non)-dairy variaties or cream also work
  • 4 c - 400 gr cheap cheddar slices the kind your mother warned you about, you can use less or a totally different cheese if you prefer
  • 1 c - 150 gr kimchi more to taste, other vegetables also work
  • 1/2 c - 45 gr breadcrumbs to top, optional but it does add a nice extra texture

Solid or unctuous?

  • 2 large eggs use this for a more solid pasta bake, as pictured OR
  • 2 T - 30 gr butter use this for more unctuous mac and cheese
  • 2 T - 30 gr flour use this for a more unctuous mac and cheese

Instructions

If you are using bacon, ideally do this the night before

  • Mix together 1 t - 5 gr gochujang, 1 ts - 5 gr honey and 1/2 T - 7.5 ml soy sauce in a bowl. Add 1 c - 150 gr of bacon cut into cubes and leave to marinade ideally overnight or at least for 1 hour.

If you are using another kind of vegetable

  • If you're adding a different kind of vegetable than kimchi, please make sure this is precooked. Either saute it in some olive oil or butter until soft, or boil it until fully cooked. As the possibilities are kind of endless I will not leave instructions here on how to do that, but the internet is your friend.
  • I murder the kimchi because hot bits of liquid logged kimchi are unpleasant to bite into, but a lot of other sauteed or precooked vegetables will be comfortable kept in bite-sized pieces.

Make mac and cheese

  • Preheat your oven to 350° F/ 175° C.
  • Strain the marinade from the bacon cubes and fry them up in a dry frying pan or skillet until the edges start to crisp. Set aside.
  • Cook 2 1/4 c - 225 gr of pasta al dente according to packet instructions.
  • Use a small food processor to grind 1 c - 150 gr kimchi down to a pulp, if using. You can also use a knife for this. You can keep it in larger pieces or grind down half and keep half in bigger pieces, etc, but I prefer to grind it down completely, because kimchi is cabbage so it’d just be hot pieces of boiling water floating around in your mac and cheese, which doesn’t appeal to me.
  • Drain the pasta and throw it into an ovenproof dish.

For a solid pasta bake

  • Beat together 2 eggs with 1 c - 250 ml milk.
  • Mix the kimchi, bacon into the pasta with 4 c - 400 gr of cheese until all the cheese has melted from the heat of the pasta.
  • Mix the beaten eggs and milk into the pasta mixture until well-combined.
  • If you like a crunchy topping add a layer of breadcrumbs before placing it into the oven.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes until solid and golden on top.

For an unctuous mac and cheese

  • Melt 2 T - 30 gr of butter in a small saucepan. Once the butter has melted, stir in 2 T - 30 gr of flour with a wooden spoon and stir like a motherfucker, until the mixture has started sticking together and coming off the bottom of the pan. This is what's known as a roux.
  • Now pour in 1 c - 250 ml of milk and keep stirring until this sauce starts to thicken slightly. It needs to coat the back of the spoon for you to be ready for the next step. This will take 5-10 minutes.
  • In an ovenproof dish mix together the pasta, kimchi, bacon and cheese sauce until well-combined.
  • If you like a crunchy topping add a layer of breadcrumbs before placing it into the oven.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top has turned golden and the sauce is bubbling up the sides.

Notes

Kimchi mac and cheese will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 days. You can reheat it in a skillet or frying pan with some oil.
I find unctuous mac and cheese isn't as nice to reheat as you lose a lot of the sauce on the first serving so any leftovers tend to be on the dry side.

Zoek je dit recept in het Nederlands? Ga dan naar vettesletten.nl voor kimchi mac and cheese uit de oven.

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