Macaroni and cheese is a beloved comfort food that never fails to bring a sense of warmth and nostalgia. And when it comes to mac and cheese, one iconic recipe stands out: Rocky and Carlo’s Mac and Cheese.
This New Orleans-style baked mac and cheese has gained a devoted following thanks to its creamy sauce, copious amounts of cheddar cheese, and the perfect balance of flavors. In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore the history of Rocky and Carlo’s Restaurant and Bar, uncover the secrets behind their famous mac and cheese recipe, and provide a step-by-step guide to recreate this delectable dish in your kitchen.
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To truly understand the magic of Rocky and Carlo’s Mac and Cheese, we must delve into the restaurant’s history.
Located in Chalmette, just east of New Orleans, Rocky and Carlo’s has been a staple in the community since its doors in 1965.
What started as a small bar with a limited food menu quickly evolved into a neighborhood joint that welcomed both men and women, proudly declaring “Ladies Invited.”
The menu at Rocky and Carlo’s reflects the rich culinary heritage of the New Orleans area, with influences from Sicilian and Italian immigrants evident in their offerings.
One of the standout dishes at Rocky and Carlo’s is their signature macaroni and cheese. While this recipe is not a replica of the restaurant’s version, it captures the essence of New Orleans-style mac and cheese.
The key to this recipe lies in the choice of pasta and the generous amounts of cheese used. Instead of traditional elbow macaroni, this recipe calls for long macaroni, which has a hole running through it, similar to Perciatelli or Bucatini. This unique pasta helps to create a dish with a dense and satisfying texture without making it overly heavy.
Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s gather all the ingredients necessary to create this mouthwatering mac and cheese:
- 1 12oz pack of long macaroni
- 8 oz half and half
- 1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- ½ stick of butter
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
It’s important to note that these measurements can be adjusted according to your preferences. Feel free to experiment with different types of cheese or add additional seasonings to customize the flavor to your liking.
Now that we have all the ingredients ready, let’s jump into the cooking process and create our version of Rocky and Carlo’s Mac and Cheese.
Start by cooking the long macaroni according to the package instructions. Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil, add a generous amount of kosher salt, and then add the noodles.
Give the pot a good stir and cook the noodles until they are al dente, which should take around 8 to 9 minutes. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set it aside.
While the pasta cooks, it’s time to prepare the rich and creamy cheese sauce. In a saucepan, melt half a stick of butter over medium-high heat until it becomes bubbly.
Add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to the melted butter and constantly whisk to create a blond roux. This roux will serve as the base for our cheese sauce. After about 3 minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat and add the warmed half and half a little at a time.
Whisk the mixture thoroughly after each addition until a smooth sauce develops. Once all the half and half have been incorporated, return the saucepan to the heat and simmer, whisking constantly for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the sauce thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.
Now it’s time to add the star ingredient: cheddar cheese. Gradually add about one-third of the shredded cheddar cheese to the sauce, stirring until it melts and combines with the sauce to create a creamy cheese sauce.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the cheese already adds some saltiness to the dish.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until well-combined. Gradually pour the beaten eggs into the cheese sauce, stirring continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
This step helps to bind the sauce and pasta together, resulting in a cohesive dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and mix well to ensure every noodle is coated with the luscious sauce.
To create a truly indulgent mac and cheese experience, we’ll layer the sauced pasta and cheese to ensure each bite is flavorful.
Add about one-third of the sauced noodles in a generously buttered baking dish and spread them evenly. Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese on top, covering the entire surface.
Repeat this layering process at least twice, ensuring the top layer is generously covered with cheese. For an extra touch of richness, place small tabs of butter on top of the final layer of cheese.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while you assemble the layers. Once the layers are complete, place the baking dish in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and give it a good stir to ensure that the cheese is evenly distributed throughout the mac and cheese.
Sprinkle another layer of shredded cheddar cheese on top and return the dish to the oven for 15 minutes or until the macaroni browns.
Once your mac and cheese is beautifully golden and bubbling, remove it from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
The mac and cheese can be enjoyed as a comforting main dish or paired with your favorite protein or side dishes for a complete meal.
Serve it piping hot, and watch as your loved ones devour this delicious New Orleans-style mac and cheese.
Rocky and Carlo’s Mac and Cheese is a true gem of New Orleans cuisine. This dish exemplifies comfort food with its creamy sauce, generous cheddar cheese, and perfectly cooked pasta.
Following this step-by-step guide, you can recreate the magic of Rocky and Carlo’s magic in your kitchen. So gather your ingredients, preheat your oven, and indulge in a taste of New Orleans with this irresistible mac and cheese recipe. It’s time to savor every cheesy, comforting bite.
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