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Chubby's baked mac ‘n’ cheese recipe with bacon and okra

From Chubby's Jamaican Kitchen, this baked mac 'n' cheese recipe gets its unique flavour from the addition of double-smoked bacon and okra.

Chubby's baked mac ‘n’ cheese recipe with bacon and okra

Serves 2

Preparation time 30 minutes

Cooking time 20 minutes

When that winter chill is in the air, there's nothing like warming up with a big bowl of comfort food like this baked mac 'n' cheese recipe from Chubby's Jamaican Kitchen. One of the best restaurants in Toronto serving Caribbean cuisine, Chubby's is all about home-style cooking imbued with the warmth and vibrancy of Jamaica and its people. 

Chef de cuisine Dadrian Coke heads up the food program with hits like jerk chicken, curry goat and saltfish fritters. Here, he shares his baked mac 'n' cheese recipe with okra and double-smoked bacon. It's full of creamy goodness from the bechamel sauce, oozing with three kinds of cheese and topped with a crispy, cheesy bread crumb crust. Yum. 

“Our Chubby’s mac ‘n’ cheese is the perfect way to warm up your get-together. It is a satisfying and hearty dish to combat the chilly weather and the perfect substitution for your traditional mashed potatoes,” says Coke.

Enjoy this baked mac 'n' cheese recipe on its own, or serve it with a stellar main course like a juicy crown roast of lamb. Then pair it with wine, a cocktail or even a mocktail. And if you're interested in vegetarian eats, you can even opt out of including the double-smoked bacon. There's no wrong way to enjoy this delicious baked mac 'n' cheese recipe. 

Ingredients

Bechamel sauce ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups milk
  • 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 5.3 oz onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ Tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 1.3 oz butter
  • 1.3 oz flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 pinch ground clove
  • 2.2 oz cheddar, regular or smoked, grated or shredded
  • 2.2 oz mozzarella, grated or shredded

Breadcrumb ingredients

  • 1.1 oz bread crumbs or panko
  • 1 Tbsp cheddar, grated
  • 1 Tbsp mozzarella, grated
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Mac 'n' cheese ingredients

  • 6.7 oz elbow pasta
  • 1 ¾ cups bechamel sauce
  • 2.2 oz double-smoked bacon, diced (optional)
  • 2.2 oz okra, cut in coins
  • 2 oz mozzarella cheese, grated or shredded
  • 2 oz cheddar, regular or smoked, grated or shredded
  • 2 oz smoked provolone, grated or shredded
  • 2 ½ oz bread crust

Method

Bechamel sauce method

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions and garlic and cook until caramelized.
  2. Once you start getting a little color (about 6–8 minutes), add the butter and flour and keep cooking for another 5 minutes.
  3. At this point add the milk, then allspice, clove, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 5 minutes while stirring, making sure the bottom doesn’t stick.
  4. Turn off the heat and fold in the grated cheddar and mozzarella. Adjust with salt if needed.

Bread crust method

  1. Pick the thyme and parsley and chop finely.
  2. In a bowl, fold together the herbs, olive oil, bread crumbs or panko and grated cheese.
  3. Using a microplane or a regular cheese grater, grate the skin of ¼ lemon. Make sure to only get the yellow skin, not the white layer under.
  4. Mix all ingredients and set aside to top mac and cheese later.

Mac ‘n’ cheese method

  1. In a saute pan, render the diced bacon (if using) over low heat until it becomes crispy.
  2. Add the okra that has been cut into ¼-inch coins and cook for another 5–7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the bechamel in the hot pan, folding all the ingredients together. Then set aside.
  4. Cook the elbow pasta in salted boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain fully and fold the pasta in the bechamel mix. Fold in the grated cheese blend. Pour the mixture into a 2-inch deep cast iron, spreading it flat.
  5. Sprinkle the bread crust evenly on top of the mixture.
  6. Put on the top rack of the oven and broil on high until the crust is golden brown
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