Makawoni au Graten (correct Kreyòl spelling), also called Macaroni au Gratin (I think that’s the French spelling) is one of the dishes I definitely look forward to having anytime. I’m a big cheese fanatic and I grew up eating it so lets say this is a dish that is very near and dear to my heart.
What is the difference between Haitian mac & cheese and “regular” mac & cheese you ask? Well the biggest difference are the noodles used to make it, we use penne, rigatoni, etc; basically big noodles (no elbow macaroni here). Another difference is we put mayonnaise in ours as well as other delicious ingredients that will be revealed to you once you watch the video.
There are so many different kinds of recipes for Makawoni au Graten all over, some people add ham, some people add chicken and etc (they sound delicious). But the one that I grew up with was the very simple version of it; you boil your noodles, add butter, peppers, onions, evaporated milk, salt or seasoned salt to season it, mayonnaise, grated parmesan cheese and bake it. Now a couple of years ago while working on recipes with my cousin Geraldine Brevil she suggested we put gouda cheese into the mix. I can’t tell you where she got that info from or if she just decided to try it on her own but what I can tell you is this… IT IS THE BOMB (it is really good) LOL. That gouda cheese kicks up the flavor of this macaroni dish, I absolutely love it. I believe that you will love it too, try it out for Thanksgiving and let me know what you think.
In a large pot salt the 16 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling add pasta and allow it to cook for 10-15 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set pasta aside. Preheat oven to 350℉.
In the same pot, on medium heat, sauté butter, garlic, onions and bell peppers for 1-2 minutes or until visibly tender.
Add pasta to sautéed ingredients, along with 1 can of evaporated milk and mix well. Then add seasoned salt, mayonnaise, 1 cup grated parmesan, 2 cups gouda and remaining can of evaporated milk to pasta, continue to mix. Salt to taste.
Pour pasta mixture into a 15-inch x 10-inch x 2-inch rectangular baking dish, sprinkle remaining cup of Parmesan and Gouda cheese on top layer. Place pan on the middle rack in oven uncovered and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until top is golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
If you simply cannot find Gouda cheese just use plain ole cheddar, it will still taste good.
Diri ak Djon don (Black mushroom rice) is such a popular dish for Haitians and non-Haitians alike. When there is a Haitian function wether it be a wedding, birthday party, a communion or whatever, it is expected and anticipated that Diri ak Djon djon will be there.
This popular rice dish is usually reserved for special occasions and Sundays so don’t expect it any other day during a regular week.
I believe the rice is so popular because of it’s dark color, it’s intriguing damnnit!!! Aside from it’s rich dark color the smell is so captivating. One whiff of this stuff and your stomach is sure to rumble as you will instantaneously become hungry.
Now I hope you guys didn’t come here to read up on what fungi family black mushrooms are from because if you did you’re fresh out of luck with me. My goal for this post and video is to show you how I was taught to make it. Alls I can tell you is this: it’s grown in Haiti, northern to be exact (or not) LOL. To get the rice black you basically boil the mushroom in water which extracts the color into the water then you cook the rice in that dark liquid, season it up and voila.
Where to buy Djon djon?? How the heck should I know, oh wait I did do the video right?? I kid I kid guys. I can only tell you where to get it from in Brooklyn, NY because that is where I live. There is a mini mall on Flatbush Avenue and Caton Avenue where several vendors with booths sell their items inside. There are Haitian women who sell Djon djon and other Haitian items throughout the mall. Another location is pretty much up and down Nostrand Avenue or Church Avenue & East 18th Street; I don’t have specific locations because some of the women who sell the mushrooms are selling it out of vans and they move from spot to spot sometimes. Another option to buy djon djon is online at Sam’s Caribbean <—– Click the link.
This is kind of a Thanksgiving recipe but not really, as I mention in the video, the thanksgiving “holiday” is not celebrated in Haiti. But being Haitian-American/Haitian-Canadian we have adapted to American and Canadian culture and sprinkled some of our own into the mix; can’t forget our roots now. I said that to say this, 9 times out of 10 most Haitian families will have Diri ak djon djon at their dinner table for Thanksgiving.
This post was long awaited and now it is finally here!!! Side note: I didn’t rinse my rice in this video, please don’t crucify me (Haitians never cook rice without rinsing it first) I was pretty tired that day so it slipped my mind (I hang my head in shame)
I really hope you guys enjoy this, happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Watch me make Diri djon djon ak kribich here:
Diri Djon djon ak Kribich (Black mushroom rice with shrimp)
In a large pot add djon djon and 8-10 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Once boiled, use a strainer to drain and set liquid aside. You can either save the djon djon for future use by storing it in a sandwich bag in the freezer or discard it.
Rinse rice with cold water to remove surface starches and set aside.
Clean shrimp by removing the shell, head, tail and veins. Rinse with water and set aside.
In a medium pot heat oil on medium heat and sauté garlic. After about a minute add shrimp, dry spices, cashews, epis and green peas and continue to sauté.
Add 5 1/2 - 6 cups of the reserved liquid to pot along with thyme and scotch bonnet. Let it come to a boil then add rice and mix.
Once liquid has evaporated, lower your heat and cover rice to allow it to fluff up.
After about 20-25 minutes turn your fire off. Let it sit for 10 minutes then serve
White rice is a staple side dish in most homes; it pretty much goes with everything.
Most Haitians eat a lot of white rice (in my opinion). We love it and pair it with Sòs pwa nwa (black bean puree) or any other bean puree for that matter. It is also paired with legumes (vegetables and meat). Sorry for that horrible description for what legumes is but that’s the best I could come up with for now, sue me LOL. I have added a picture below for you to see what it is. Ok enough about legume, besides that white rice is paired with many other things (I’m not listing them).
White rice is usually a fairly simple recipe, rice, salt and water. While talking to a friend he suggested that I put some garlic powder in it cause we are both garlic fanatics, YAY GARLIC! Yes garlic is really important to us and since I already love it so much, I didn’t think it would ruin the rice so I added it. Sure enough it came out delicious!!! Why wouldn’t it, it’s garlic!!!!
The rice was super good; the small amount of garlic added did not over power it at all. Do you see that fluffy goodness above??? Yum!! Now since it actually came out good it’s only right I share the information. Check out the video below along with the recipe. I hope you try and like it as much as I did.
Wish you were in Haiti, but you're not? Wish you had some Tablèt, but you don't? Make it yourself with my easy to follow recipe! Sign up for my e mail list to get the exclusive video and recipes on How to make Tablèt Nwa, Tablèt Kokoye and Tablèt Pistach (cashew, coconut and peanut candies).