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Tita Dolly's Macarrones (Kitchen Sink Macaroni)

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“I got this recipe from my tita Dolly. She uses heavy cream and full-fat evaporated milk in her bechamel; I have tried to lighten it up with half-and-half and fat-free milk. But do use the butter! This is a great contribution to a potluck or family gathering. =)”
READY IN:
1hr 30mins
SERVES:
16
UNITS:
US

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions, until al dente. Drain and reserve.
  3. FILLING. In a very large skillet or wok, melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter. Saute onion until soft. Add tomato sauce and stir to combine.
  4. Add bell peppers, pimientos, chicken, ham, Vienna sausage, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Stir gently to combine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Remove from the heat. Add macaroni and toss gently until all combined. If your pot isn't big enough you can transfer the filling to a large mixing bowl. Divide mixture between two 13x9 baking dishes.
  6. BECHAMEL. Melt remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter. Sift in the flour. Over low heat, whisk together until mixture turns tan, about 3 minutes.
  7. Slowly add the half-and-half and milk, whisking constantly. Mixture should be bubbling very slowly. Season with remaining salt and pepper.
  8. Cook until mixture is thick, stirring constantly. (If it gets too thick, thin with a little milk.) Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  9. COMBINE. Divide bechamel between the 2 baking dishes, spreading over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm.
  10. * You can do everything except the baking ahead of time. Refrigerate until ready to bake. (I haven't tried freezing this but it would probably work; just bake for longer, maybe covered at first.).
  11. * This recipe lends itself to a lot of variation. * You can use other shaped pasta like shells -- anything that will nicely catch the filling and sauce. * The original recipe called for Oxford sausage but Dolly never knew what it was, so Vienna sausage was substituted. You can also use cocktail sausages (they come in a jar). * You could substitute Italian sausage (mild or hot) for the Vienna; squeeze out of casings (or use bulk), cook thoroughly, and drain well before using. * Instead of jarred pimientos, for more flavor, you could use fire-roasted red peppers -- drain well, then cut into pieces. Instead of tomato sauce, use 1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes -- smoosh the tomatoes and add the whole can, including liquid. * For the bechamel, I've seen recipes that use fat-free half-and-half, but I don't trust the thickeners. Milk would be fine, as long as it's at least 2% -- you need some fat for the sauce to work. =).

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