Monday, April 14, 2014

Restaurant Inspiration - Flatiron Room Mac & Cheese

The Flatiron Room, NYC. Photo Courtesy of The Flatiron Room 
It's often that I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have wonderful friends. 

The latest example of this comes courtesy of my good buddy Sonia. Not only did she recently treat me to a birthday night out at a majorly swanky and very cool whiskey lounge called The Flatiron Roombut she made sure we ordered the best thing on the menu - a unique and positively sinful Mac and Cheese with Brussels Sprouts, Dates, Hot Chilies and a Gouda Cream Sauce

If this combo sounds suspect to mac and cheese purists out there, I'm with you! But believe me, this dish is so inexplicably good that I knew by the second bite that I'd just have to make it myself. Rather than trying to explain the wonders of Flatiron's mac, check out what Haute Living had to say about it. They even voted it one of their top 5 mac and cheeses in NYC:

"We never thought we'd highlight any semblance of vegetable mac in our top picks, nor did we think we'd include a whiskey-slinging jazzy newcomer to the 26th street strip, but this positively scrumptious take on this fan favorite has us eating our words. Chef Susan Burdain combines brussel sprouts with radiatore pasta and tops it with a Calabrian chile cream sauce; panko breadcrumbs hit the final high note. 37 W 26th St, between Broadway and Sixth Ave."
Sautéing your base ingredients, Photo: NK
When finding Radiatorethe cool corkscrew pasta that Flatiron Room uses, proved oddly challenging, my super-sweet friend made sure to keep an eye out for it herself. Next thing I knew, the goods were in my hands and I had a big smile on my face. Sonia, did I mention that you rock? :) 

I was ready to go once a bit of research yielded the recipe we'll slightly adapt today. 

First, a few notes:

To point out the obvious, this recipe is not diet. Soooooo not diet. But Mac and Cheese is the best, so come along with me as we live it up! 

Expect more of a creamy cheese sauce than a typical cheesy, gooey Mac. You'll find the change intriguing. Something about the way the cream works with the spicy chilies to create a pleasant orangey-pink sauce (punctuated by sweet dates and smokey brussels sprouts) is pretty darn amazing. 

Don't skip the Panko if you can help it. There's nothing better than adding some golden brown crunch-factor atop this mac masterpiece. 

Finally, this dish is rich as all get out and is best served in small appetizer portions. You could be like me and have seconds but you may or may not spend the rest of the evening super full, reclined on your couch doing your best Homer Simpson. Not the worst thing in the world but I figured I'd warn you. 

Now that that's all outta the way...let's get to the kitchen. I hope you enjoy this splurge-worthy dish as much as we did. And if you're ever in NYC, be sure to stop by the Flatiron Room for finger or two of fine scotch and a skillet of this cheesy goodness: 

Flatiron Room Mac & Cheese - Gouda and Calabrian Chili Cream,
Brussels Sprouts & Dates, Photo: NK 

Flatiron Room Mac & Cheese
Recipe slightly adapted from + Flatiron's Chef Susan Burdain
Serves 5-6 as an appetizer

4 Cups (al dente) cooked Spiral Pasta (we used Radiatore) *just shy of a pound of pasta  
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
8 Brussels Sprouts, sliced in half and roasted in advance. See Note*
4 Ounces grated Aged Gouda Cheese 
1.5 - 2 Tablespoons pitted Medjool Dates, finely minced
2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 teaspoons Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Calabrian Chili Relish/Paste (or finely chopped hot chili peppers)
2 Tablespoons minced Shallots
2 Tablespoons Hot Sauce (we recommend Cholula or similar - Tabasco would be too hot)
2 Tablespoons grated Parmigiana Cheese
Panko Breadcrumbs, for topping 
Equipment: a large, deep, ovenproof skillet - ideally a 10 inch cast iron skillet

*Note: to quickly pre-roast the Brussels Sprouts preheat the oven to 450 and simply slice them in half lengthwise, toss in a Tablespoon or Two of Olive Oil, sprinkle with Salt and roast for 15-20 minutes, turning once or twice. You can make these in advance and store in the fridge until ready to use. 

1. Prepare the roasted Brussels Sprouts if you've not done so already. Recipe above. 

2. Precook the Radiatore pasta if you have not done so already. It should be just firmer than al dente. Drain and set aside. Ideal cook time for Radiatore will be 6 minutes. 

Add Panko and it's ready to finish in the broiler, Photo: NK
3. Preheat the broiler. 

4. On your stove top, put the Olive Oil in your ovenproof skillet and heat until shimmering over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels Sprouts, Shallots, Garlic, Chiles or Chili Relish, & Dates. Sauté for a minute or so. 

5. Pour in the Cream, grated Gouda, and Parmigiana. Stir gently until cheese has melted, about 3 minutes.  Cook another minute or two so cream begins to bubble and thicken. 

6. Add the Hot Sauce and stir. Gently add in Pasta and toss until it is fully coated. 

7. Top the skillet with a few tablespoons of Panko Breadcrumbs and move it to the broiler to cook for 2-3 minutes until the Panko becomes golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Serve hot and enjoy! 


  1. This place called Zuzies in NYC has pretty much the same exact dish!! I just tried it yesterday and cannot stop thinking about it, so here I am searching for the recipe, haha. I am definitely going to try this ASAP! Did your recipe come out just like the original???

    1. Hi Rebecca, thanks for reading. I have to say I think we came quite close especially since the recipe above is only a slight adaptation. It's super rich but so good! For me, it's the Calabrian chilies that really make it :) enjoy!