Food + Wine

Hawaiian Mac n Cheese

So my idea for making a pineapple-ham pasta was a good one. The idea just needed to be coddled, babied and nurtured. Ahh…the joys of parenting. Eventually, after it morphed into 3 different dishes, I finally figured it out. G and I tweaked it all last night and some this morning until we finally decided it’s good enough to stand on it’s own two feet. And by good, I mean pretty darn awesome. If you like the idea of pineapple and ham on a pizza then this shouldn’t be too foreign of a concept to you. I do hope you give it a shot. (This recipe served us dinner and leftovers today.)

-Boil around 6 oz of pasta (macaroni, penne, anything short-cut) in salty water until just about al dente. Drain. Reserve the pasta water.
-Meanwhile heat a large skillet with olive oil and add about 1/2 a large onion and 6 oz of diced or cubed deli ham, (getting a thick ham steak from the deli and cubing it yourself is best) Cook until onion is caramelized and ham is golden brown. Set aside.
-Add a TB of butter to the pan, maybe a little oil and add a large can (20 oz) of crushed pineapple, mostly drained. (Reserve the juice. If you don’t use it here, your husband may want or demand to drink it. I dunno…he’s got a thing for pineapple juice). Season with a little salt and a good bit of sugar, depending on your pineapple’s sweetness.
-Cook until the pineapple begins to break down a bit on med-high heat (5 or so mins).
-Cut the heat back to lowish and add 1 TB of tomato paste, about 3/4 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, about 1/2 cup of milk or cream,~ 1/2 cup of grated parm or asiago cheese and stir until all is combined and melted. Add the ham and onions back to the pan along with almost all the zest of one lemon and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. It should be a thick sauce now. Taste it. What does it need? It should be sweet, salty, creamy, and a little zippy. You can add more milk or pasta water or pineapple juice until you feel like it’s a good, thick sauce for the pasta.
-Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir til combined.
-Pour into a greased pyrex-type baking dish. (I recommend a 9*9*13 inch so it lays in a thinner layer along the bottom).
-Sprinkle a good layer of more cheddar on top (maybe another 3/4 cup or so… maybe a full cup if you’re feelin’ cheesy).
-Crumble Ritz cracker crumbs over the entire thing and drizzle with melted butter (I won’t tell you how much butter. You know I always undercut the amount, but you can go hog-wild.)
-Bake in a 375* oven until the crumbs are good and brown. (Everything is already cooked so all you need to do it make the top look yummy.)
G and I are very proud of our little Hawaiian child. Be good to him. Her. It.

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  • Reply cary August 5, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    this sounds good. question…do you add the pineapple to the onion/ham mixture?

  • Reply Everyday Champagne August 5, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Yes. Everything ends up going into the pan in the end, making a yummy, chunky sauce.

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