Tue May 15, 2012
A great Huli Huli chicken deserves a great side. But wait, this is macaroni salad, how can that be great?
A macaroni salad hater for most of my life, I never saw much value in a bland, fatty, and mushy salad created by the marriage mayonnaise and macaroni. I've been coming around though, finding a few noteworthy mac salads here and there, and when I tried out this recipe for a Hawaiian version, it sealed the deal.
So wait makes this one so much better than others, it's all in the process. Developed by the Cook's Country folks, they broke down this macaroni salad to squeeze as much flavor into those noodles and humanely possible.
It starts with over boiling the macaroni until they're "fat." These extra soft elbows are now like a sponge, ready to asbord whatever flavor is introduced. Here, that's flavor is cider vinegar, which is tossed on the pasta right after it's been cooked and drained.
Next comes the dressing. Unlike the super thick globby mayo mess I'm used to, this dressing is thinner, combining milk with the mayo, along with brown sugar, salt, and pepper. After the macaroni rests for 10 minutes, the dressing is added in.
Then comes the mix-ins in the form of scallions, carrot, and celery. All are essential to a the final balance of flavors. The scallions add an oniony bite, while the carrot gives a bit of crunch and the celery lends its distinctive fresh flavor.
All off this stirred together, and set in the fridge to let the flavors meld for an hour.
Now this macaroni salad may not look too different on the surface, but one taste you'll know it's something special. The soft macaroni has an embedded tanginess, which combines with dressing to give a flavor akin to a white barbecue sauce. There's a fresh crunch from the carrots, scallions, and celery that gives the salad both texture and depth, rising it well above its bland brethren. Not only is this macaroni salad worthy to stand next to Huli Huli chicken, I like it so much that I've even found myself making it as regular side for my barbecue, and that's a high compliment.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Adapted from Cook's Country.
- Prep Time:
- 20 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 1 Hour 10 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 15 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 1 Hour 45 Minutes
- Serves 8 to 10
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 4 scallions , sliced thin
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 celery rib, chopped fine
- To make the dressing: whisk 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 cup mayo, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in medium bowl.
- Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook until very soft, about 15 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add vinegar and toss until absorbed. Cool pasta 10 minutes, then stir in dressing until pasta is well coated. Cool completely.
- Add scallions, carrot, celery, remaining milk, and remaining mayo to pot with pasta mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to large serving bowl and refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour or up to two days. Serve.