Have you ever stood in the pasta aisle at your grocery store and noticed they carry 4-5 different brands of spaghetti or farfalle? Then they’ve got capellini, fettuccini, linguine, orecchiette, penne, orzo, and then you get down to the bottom shelf and there are the egg noodles. But where are the large elbow macaroni? Small elbows, check. Large elbows? Nope. When did the large elbow fall out of favor? Did it get pushed out by the whole wheat and rice pasta?
Something about the large elbow says this is basic, old fashioned American cooking. Nothing fancy here, just good tasting chow, you know? And so, for me the large elbow is key to both my mac and cheese and goulash (you know, the noodles, ground beef and tomato sauce/paste/ready-cuts sort – some call it American chop suey, others Johnny Marzetti). But if you too live in an area without love for the large elbow mac, here are two options.
1. Galletti — It looks like an elbow macaroni with a ruffle, galletti meaning “rooster” and referring to a rooster’s comb. I picked it up at Grocery Outlet awhile ago and I have to think it came from Canada or the UK, because I’ve never seen it otherwise on the shelves States-side.
2. Pipe rigate (also called lumache or chiocciole) — A sort of snail-shell shaped noodle, which will be perfect for catching and trapping the cheese sauce in mac and cheese. Whole Foods carries it in their 365 brand and PCC markets in Seattle carry Bionaturae chiocciole.
So let’s get to the mac and cheese — made with the galletti. This mac and cheese with Hatch chiles and Beecher’s flagship cheese may very well replace the standard cheddar version around our house. From a recipe perspective, it’s fairly standard, the twist is that I add some of the chopped chiles to the bechamel sauce while it’s thickening to infuse it with the flavor of the chiles. I haven’t tried doing this with canned chiles, so I can’t say how the taste compares or how the result comes out (the canned variety is also chopped much finer).