This Macaroni Schotel is decadent, rich, creamy, and loaded with cheese. It feeds a crowd and is great for picnics, a comforting dinner, or as a holiday side dish!
As one of the most ethnically diverse societies, Indonesia is well known for its cultural diversity such as traditional practices and customs. Some of them are historically affected by colonization.
Indonesia experienced a colonial history under Dutch rule for a long time. The colonial period has left huge influences on various aspects of Indonesian people’s lives and Indonesian cuisine.
When the Dutch arrived, they brought with them their cooking and baking methods. One of many Indonesian foods that was influenced by Dutch culture is Macaroni Schotel.
What is Macaroni Schotel?
Macaroni Schotel is also known as makaroni panggang (baked macaroni) or makaroni schaal. It is a baked pasta, usually macaroni with a mixture of egg and milk with other ingredients like meats, vegetables, or fish. Cheese is commonly sprinkled on top.
This dish was originally not called Macaroni Schotel at first. In Europe, it is known as macaroni casserole. Both are the same dish, just different names. Moreover, macaroni casserole itself does not originate from the Netherlands but from Northern Europe countries.
This dish was introduced by the Dutch during its colonialization era in Indonesia in the mid-19th century. The name “schotel” or “schaal” was borrowed from the Dutch language, and refers to the container used to bake the macaroni.
Ingredients You Need
- Dried elbow pasta/macaroni. The classic pasta choice is macaroni, but you can substitute it with another similar-sized pasta if you really want to.
- Bacon/smoked beef. Make sure you cut it into small pieces. If your pieces are too large, they will not distribute evenly.
- Eggs. To bind all the ingredients together.
- Butter. To make the roux.
- Onion. To add sweetness and savoriness.
- Garlic. For aromatic flavor and aroma.
- All-purpose flour. Another part of the roux, flour thickens the sauce.
- Milk. The final component in the roux, milk creates a silky base for our cheese sauce.
- Black pepper. It adds warmth and depth of flavor.
- Cheddar cheese. To add richness and contribute a wonderfully velvety, thick consistency.
- Mozzarella cheese. For topping. You can also substitute it with cheddar cheese if preferred.
- Pasta. This Macaroni Schotel starts with elbow macaroni that are slightly undercooked so they don’t get mushy when baked. Any short pasta like penne, rotini, or shells will also work for this recipe.
- Meat. Other popular meat options for Macaroni Schotel are shredded chicken, ground beef, canned corned beef, sausages, and canned tuna. If you are a vegetarian, you can substitute the meat with potatoes, carrots, or green beans, which do not have too much water content. Make sure to dice them small.
- Cheese. In this recipe, we use cheddar cheese for the sauce and mozzarella for the topping. You can be very creative with the cheese selection here. Any cheese that melts well works in this Macaroni Schotel recipe.
How To Make Macaroni Schotel
- Heat a large frying pan on medium heat and add butter. Once the butter is melted, add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and stir fry until fragrant. Add diced bacon/smoked beef and stir fry until cooked.
- Add flour and cook until cooked. Add milk gradually and stir with each addition. Season with salt, sugar, black pepper, and nutmeg. Add grated cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Turn off the heat and cool slightly.
- Boil dried elbow pasta/macaroni until al dente for about 7-8 minutes. Drain the water. Cool slightly.
- Add the macaroni to the sauce mixture. Add beaten eggs and mix until well incorporated.
- Transfer the mixture to baking dishes. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 350F/180°C. Garnish with dried parsley. Rest for 10-15 minutes to let it set.
- Cook pasta until al dente (firm). Cook the pasta less than you normally would. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, and you don’t want it to get mushy.
- Salt the pasta water. It really makes a difference in the flavor of the pasta.
- Avoid lumps in your sauce. Add the milk gradually and keep stirring once the milk is added.
- Choose good quality cheese. The more flavorsome your Macaroni Schotel will be.
- Shred the cheese by hand. Pre-shredded cheeses contain additives to keep them from sticking together which affects the way they melt.
- Cool the sauce and pasta until just warm to the touch before adding eggs or the eggs will get cooked and scrambled.
- Rest before serving. Allowing the Macaroni Schotel to rest for a few minutes after baking will thicken the sauce and allow the casserole to set.
How To Store The Leftovers
This recipe makes a lot of portions. If there are any leftovers, you can store them in the fridge and they will last for 3 to 5 days. Just make sure you store it in a tight-lid food container before you put it in the fridge. You can also freeze them for about 2 months. You can reheat them in the microwave or oven. If using the oven, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil to prevent the macaroni from drying out.
What To Serve With Macaroni Schotel
Macaroni Schotel is worthy of serving as a meal in its own right. You can also serve it with a refreshing green salad on the side.
Since the dish can be quite heavy, Indonesians also love to serve Macaroni Schotel with saus sambal (Indonesian chili sauce) to add spiciness and cut back the richness.