When I was young my family used to rely pretty heavily on the Hamburger Helper. Neither of my parents were big into cooking so they always waited until the last minute to make dinner and needed something quick to feed 5 people. And cheaply. A lot of the time Hamburger Helper was just that simple solution they were asking for. Oh and lets not forget its first cousin, Tuna Helper, he was often there too. And since I was young and didn’t know any better, I thought it was great. But this homemade Taco Mac recipe… it’s like the better, more advanced version of Hamburger Helper. Seriously- it’s SO good!
I stumbled upon this recipe at FoodGawker. It just happened to be by a fantastic blog, Kevin & Amanda. This was actually my first time making something from their site and I was very happy with it so I will probably be returning there. Ya know, see what else they’ve got up their sleeves. But anyways, it’s a very simple, straightforward recipe, that even an individual that doesn’t cook can make. Well, with exception of the cheese sauce. Some might fight that a little intimidating. Don’t worry, their not hard to make, just make sure that you slowly whisk in your milk and add your shredded cheese while the pot is off the heat.
I did run into one small hiccup myself- it took me way longer than 12-14 minutes to get tender macaroni. Kind of weird right? Actually now that I think about it, maybe I didn’t boil it for so long because of the macaroni, but because I wanted to reduce a lot of the liquid so that it wouldn’t make the cheese sauce runny. Jeez, I can’t remember. Sorry : / Well, anyways, if you do want to make this, obviously you need to be sure that your macaroni is cooked, but the amount of liquid leftover is pretty important. You don’t want it to be completely dry, but I would say, no more than 1/2 cup of liquid left before adding the cheese sauce. It’ll still look very runny as soon as you add it in. You have to let it sit for about 10 minutes to let the noodles soak in the extra moisture and for the whole thing to set up (Hamburger Helper does this too). I almost had a fit thinking my Taco Mac was going to be runny, but after a short wait, it was perfect. So just keep that in mind.
There was one small, personal change to the recipe that I made- I didn’t use a taco seasoning packet. I’m not a fan of those (some have MSG, etc). I used the assembly of spices from my Homemade Taco Meat recipe. It worked perfectly and tasted fantastic. So if you like to use as little processed stuff as possible, I encourage you to do that. It was a perfect substitution. And to lighten this up a bit, just swap out the hamburger for some ground turkey, use some lower fat cheese, and some skim milk. Easy : )
- 1 lb lean hamburger meat
- 1 pkg taco seasoning
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies (or petite diced tomatoes)
- 2 cups beef broth (or water)
- 1 cup elbow macaroni
- For the Cheese Sauce:
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Brown and drain hamburger meat. Stir in taco seasoning, Rotel, beef broth, and macaroni. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and cover pan. Simmer 12-14 mins until macaroni is tender.
- Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking for 5 minutes until fragrant and light brown in color. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Whisk until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheddar cheese until melted. Add the salt and pepper to the cheese sauce. Pour the cheese sauce over the hamburger mixture. Stir gently to combine.
Adapted from Kevin & Amanda