One day, years ago, I drove through the McDonald’s drive-thru lane with my daughter and her friend. I was joking and asked if one of the characters they had painted on the side of the building was the Evil McCheeser. They laughed so loud and so long I was embarrassed. Silly mom, what do I know? I totally thought that was one of the McDonald’s characters!
The incident remains stuck in my mind for some odd reason. Like an earworm, a song that’s stuck in your head, the Evil McCheeser haunts me at times when I see a commercial or drive by a McDonald’s restaurant. Maybe it’s time to name a dish after that character and bring him to life so that I can bury him. Time for a cheesy casserole that would coincidentally use up a bunch of cheese cubes and curds leftover in the fridge from Christmas. The cheese and grapes Christmas tree appetizer was cute and tasty but we had a lot of leftover cheese!
I started by perusing my pasta cupboard for a shape that would be right for the Evil McCheeser. I decided radiatore would be a good choice. I brought a pot of salted water to a boil and cooked the pasta until it was al dente.
I chose bacon as my protein. It’s also a good flavor to match with random cheeses. I chopped up several strips of bacon and fried it in a large nonstick skillet until it was browned and crispy.
In the same skillet I added 4 tablespoons of butter and let it melt before adding 4 tablespoons of flour to make a roux. I cooked the flour for several minutes to cook out the raw flavor.
I added 3 cups of milk and stirred until the sauce had thickened and was smooth, about 5 minutes.
I had 2 cups of cheeses and added them to the sauce. I used a cheese with horseradish, one that was smoky, some shredded white cheddar and a shredded Monterey jack cheese. I was gambling with some pretty flavorful cheeses and crossing my fingers. I hoped the resulting flavor wasn’t truly Evil!
My pasta was almost al dente by then so I dumped about 2 cups of frozen broccoli into the pot and let it heat for a few minutes. I drained it, reserving two cups of pasta water to use if the mixture needed more liquid.
I added the pasta to the skillet of cheese sauce and stirred well. I let it cook for several minutes and added a touch of pasta water when it needed more moisture. I wanted the sauce to stay creamy.
Served up for dinner, the pasta dish was delicious. So much flavor! I’m not sure it was actually Evil, but it definitely was McCheesy! It was a fun way to use up random cheeses in a pasta dish. We had leftovers that were great reheated in the microwave for lunches as well. Now maybe I can bury the Evil McCheeser moniker my crazy memory keeps trying to recreate!
Evil McCheeser Casserole
A great way to use a variety of cheeses!
- 16 oz box radiatore pasta
- 5 or 6 strips of thick cut bacon; diced
- 2 to 3 cups frozen broccoli
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk
- 2 cups cheese; cubed or shredded
- pasta water as needed for consistency
- salt and pepper to taste
Fill a large pot with water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups of pasta water.
In a large nonstick skillet fry the diced bacon until browned and crispy.
Add butter to skillet and when melted, add flour. Cook flour for several minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to brown.
Stir in milk until mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes.
Add drained pasta and broccoli to the cheese sauce and stir well. Cook for several minutes. Add pasta water, a little at a time, if mixture is too dry.