Years ago, when friends and family would visit with us in Nashville, it always meant a trip down to Broadway for live music, a quick stop by the Parthenon and maybe a visit to the modest, but sought-after Loveless Cafe for some warm, flaky biscuits.
But today, that itinerary - and Nashville itself - looks quite a bit different. There’s dozens of new and hip restaurants to choose from, locally owned breweries to visit, new neighborhoods to walk through with trendy rooftop lounges, art galleries and cafes. At times it feels more like a Brooklyn Borough than a city of the South, attracting an onslaught of tourists, artists and celebrities.
But somewhere beneath the Instagrammable wall murals and the cupcake vending machines, we have Hot Chicken to keep us grounded. And every real Nashvillian knows you can't have Hot Chicken without Pimento Mac-N-Cheese.
This recipe for Pimento Mac-N-Cheese is inspired by our favorite Hot Chicken restaurant in town, Hattie B’s. It’s part an homage to the city’s Southern roots and part an early birthday present for my husband. Because no one loves Mac more than him!
The dish gets its signature, subtle spice from sweet pimento peppers and a hint of smoked paprika. Combined with 2 heaping cups of Tillamook’s Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, it’s the perfect cheese to noodle ratio and needless to say, it's packed with flavor!
I like to use large elbow macaroni noodles for this recipe (but any kind will do!) and top it off with a few toasty breadcrumbs for added texture. You can serve it up in one large dish or in several mini skillets - either way, it will be delicious!
Special thanks to Tillamook for sponsoring this post!
- 3 cups uncooked Large Elbow Macaroni Noodles
- 4 cups Whole Milk
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups grated Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 1/2 cup Diced Pimento Peppers
- 1/4 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- Chives, chopped, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the macaroni, drain and set aside. While the macaroni cooks, grate the cheese and set aside.
- In a large sauce pan, combine the milk, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, not a boil, and stir occasionally.
- While the milk mixture comes to a simmer, melt your butter in a small saucepan. Using a whisk, slowly add in the flour, whisking all the while to prevent clumps from forming. Continue whisking until all the flour has been incorporated, about 3-4 minutes. Then, remove from the heat. Once the milk mixture is simmering, add in the butter mixture and stir until smooth and thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
- Once thickened, remove from the heat. Add in your grated cheese and pimentos and stir to combine and melt the cheese. Then, add in the macaroni noodles, stir to combine and spoon into your dish or dishes. Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. While the macaroni bakes, toss the bread crumbs with the olive oil in a bowl and set aside.
- Once baked, remove the foil, give it a stir and sprinkle with the bread crumbs and an additional sprinkle of cheese if you desire. Then, return to the oven and bake until the bread crumbs have started to brown. Alternatively, you can place under a low broiler to brown quicker.
- Remove from the oven, garnish with chopped chives and enjoy!