Ellie Campbell upgrades a childhood favorite with chefly technique for her gourmet hot dog macaroni & cheese. For her last staff meal at Hamersley’s before heading to a Fenway gig – and being inundated with Fenway frank jokes – Campbell made the key decision to keep the hot dog water handy for her take on the boxed classic. “It dawned on me, I had hot dog stock! I should use this! I have since take it one step further by using the pasta water to boil the hot dogs and then turning it into my Mornay sauce.” While the chef herself admits it sounds strange, “off-putting even,” she also swears “it will be the best you’ve ever had. #SecretsInTheSauce.” Try your hand at the recipe below to please gourmands of any age.
- 2 1/2 quarts water
- 1/8 cup salt
- 1 pound of your favorite dry pasta [Chef says: I'm a small shells girl myself]
- 7 hot dogs, or 1 pack
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3/4 pound American cheese
- salt and pepper
- In a thick bottomed pot, bring the salt and water to a boil. Then, add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes. Strain the pasta and set aside, reserving the pasta water in the pot. [Chef says: The water is essential.]
- Cut the hot dogs into circles and add them to pot. Cook for two minutes, then turn the heat down to a simmer.
- In a separate small sauté pan, melt the butter. Once fully melted, slowly whisk in the flour. [Chef says: Hey, look! You're making a roux!] Once the two have combined to create a sandy paste, whisk it into the hot dogs and water on medium-high heat. [Chef says: It is important that this water comes to a boil, even if only for a moment, otherwise your flour won't fully cook and your sauce will be gritty.]
- Once the roux water has boiled, return the heat to medium and start dropping in the cheese slices (about six or seven at a time), pausing to whisk. Once all the cheese is in and melted, add the reserved pasta to the pot.
- With a rubber spatula, fold all of the ingredients together, turning the heat up a bit to warm the pasta, if needed. Season to taste. [Chef says: Tasting is important. For some people, the salt level might already be exactly where they need it. For everyone, I recommend some black pepper.]