Makawoni au Graten is a popular pasta and cheese dish from Haiti, it is essentially the Haitian version of mac and cheese. It contains typical baked mac and cheese ingredients like pasta, milk and cheese. Other ingredients in Haitian mac and cheese are bell peppers, Tête de Maure, onions and mayonnaise.
The vegetables are sauteed then added to the rest of the ingredients to make a cheese sauce. The pasta and cheese sauce are mixed together, topped with more cheese then baked until melted and golden.
Some recipe variations begin with a roux for the cheese sauce. It’s not usual for some Makawoni au Graten to contain pieces of meat such as ham or ground beef. Traditionally, a rigatoni noodle is used.
‘Tête de Maure’ means moor’s head and is an aged Edam cheese popular in Haiti. Edam is a semi hard cheese which originates from the Netherlands but gouda is often substituted for Edam when it is hard to find. The inclusion of mayonnaise is debated amongst Haitians. Modern twists of this recipe use other cheeses like Parmesan.
Haitian Makawoni au Graten, likewise other mac and cheeses from the Caribbean, is not like the American mac and cheese, which can be cooked on the stove top into a bowl of gooey cheese and elbow pasta. It is more similar to baked mac and cheese, but with a firmer texture, often referred to as macaroni pie.
Origin & Significance
The origin of Makawoni au Graten is unknown. What makes this version of Mac and Cheese Haitian is the use of the large pasta noodle and seasonings.
- Pasta penne or rigatoni - 8 oz.
- Butter, unsalted - ½ tbsp
- Onions, chopped finely - 2 tbsp
- Red, yellow or green bell pepper - 1/3 cup
- Garlic clove - 1
- Evaporated milk, preferably Nestle Carnation - 6 oz
- Mayonnaise, room temperature - ¼ cup
- Tête de Maure, shredded, plus more for topping - ¾ cups
- Parmesan cheese grated, plus more for topping - ¼ cup
- Salt and pepper - to taste
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
- Once the butter is sizzling, add the onions to the skillet and saute for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the peppers and saute for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Reduce the heat if the onions are cooking too quickly.
- Add the garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a baking dish with butter.
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until soft or al dente depending on your preference.
- Drain and return the pasta to the hot pot, and immediately move onto the next step.
- In the same pot, add the prepared veggies, evaporated milk, mayonnaise, gouda, and parmesan cheese.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix until the cheese starts to melt then transfer the pasta to the baking dish.
- Top with extra shredded Gouda and parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the top is golden.You may also broil the dish for 2-3 minutes for a crispy golden brown top.
- Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 302Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 325mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 9g