When it comes to noche buena, Filipinos hardly like to experiment. There are so many necessary staples on a Christmas spread, that will never change—there’s lechon, macaroni salad, hamon, and queso de bola, for example. While it’s often a beautiful thing to keep traditions intact, experimenting with food, and trying out bolder, more inventive dishes, can also make for a pretty merry Christmas, only if the results are guaranteed to please even your most critical relatives.
Lucky for you, we’ve tossed in two of everyone’s favorite noche buena ingredients into a bowl that absolutely no one can complain about. This cheesy, decadent mac and cheese is made even more Filipino with the addition of Christmas ham and queso de bola. Toss everything together for a beautifully baked casserole that is indulgent and creamy, and has a bit of sweetness from the glazed hamon.
We’ve partnered with Coke to bring you this recipe, which is guaranteed to make your noche buena even more exciting. Imagine a refreshing glass of the beloved cola after a rich bite of some mac and cheese. Who knows, maybe you’ll start a whole new tradition with this meal.
Active time: 1 hr
Total time: 30 mins
Queso de Bola Mac and Cheese with Hamon
1 cup unsalted butter
¼ cup flour
3 cups full milk
3 cups water
1-pound elbow macaroni
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, grated
1 cup queso de bola, grated + ½ cup
1 cup cooked ham, chopped
1 tbsp. mustard or mustard powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat an oven to the broiler setting, or about 500F.
In large (preferably oven safe) pot or skillet over medium-high heat, heat the butter until brown and nutty, about 5 minutes.
Add the flour and whisk, cooking for 3 minutes or until the flour loses its raw flavor and the brown butter has slightly thickened.
Add the milk and water to the pot, stirring continuously to ensure no lumps form.
Add the pasta and cook, stirring continuously, for about 6-8 minutes, or until the noodles are just al dente and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Turn off the heat and add in cheddar cheese, jack cheese, and 1 cup of queso de bola, the ham, and the mustard or mustard powder.
Stir until all the cheese has melted and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the mac & cheese to an oven safe dish, or keep in oven safe skillet (if using).
Top with the remaining ½ cup of queso de bola.
Place in the broiler for 2-4 minutes, or until the top is bubbling and charred in parts.