Because I talk about it a lot when I make it before raid. And I keep forgetting to write this stuff down so I end up half-assing it anyway.
Regarding the name: I have no clue why it’s called tacobake when it has almost nothing to do with tacos (it has baking, though!). I got it from my old roommate / best friend, who had it as a family tradition type thing, and she never gave me an answer on why it’s called tacobake. But we call it tacobake and it’s yummy.
It’s quite simple to make, which makes it prime cooking for college people like myself who have IRL Cooking Skills of 1 or less.
Ingredients with comments because I’m not terribly exact with this recipe
1 Mac & Cheese box. I personally use this shells + cheese dinner thing found in my grocery store (I’m partial to Kroger, but Food Lion works) that’s like the grocery store’s brand of mac & cheese. Basically, you need pasta, and you need some cheese, preferably cheese sauce, however unhealthy that might be. If you get the bigger bargain boxes, then divide the pasta in the box by the number of cheese pouches present. This recipe can handle one cheese pouch’s worth of pasta.
1 Can of Salsa (1 lb). I started with Mild salsa because I’m a spicy weeny, but I’ve graduated to medium salsa now. I’ve been using Pace, but whatever brand works for you. The 1 lb jars work best; you can just about fit all of it in the pan if you’re careful, but you can use less if you like (or mix & match).
2 cans of Tuna. My friend used 1 can; I found I wanted a bit more tuna, so I use 2 cans. You can substitute chicken if you don’t like tuna. Or you can not use tuna if you don’t want meat at all in there.
Some shredded parmesan. For the top. Or any other kind of cheese really. A medium bag of it is going nuts, but you’ll maybe use half the bag if you’re like me.
9-inch pan. To bake all this in. The amounts I listed above are what fit my pan.
1 small-ish pot to make the pasta in. Whatever size fits the amount of pasta you’re making.
A stove top (to make the pasta) & an oven (to bake the whole shibam in).
1hr of your time — the prep takes about 15-20m total, the baking about 40m.
A serving/baking spoon to serve/stir with. & Maybe a fork for getting the tuna out (& later eating). You’ll be stirring boiling water + pasta with it, & mixing stuff like salsa & tuna with it, and then serving with it, so choose appropriately. I go for a solid, long-handled, plastic-ish spoon as opposed to a spaghetti spoon or a serving spoon with draining holes.
Favored Beverage. (Hint: I like Guinness, but Mr. Pibb or milk goes well too.)
Take a pan & boil some water on the stove top like you’re making pasta (because you are going to). Generally this involves the amount of water that the back of the pasta&cheese box tells me I need.
While it’s boiling (10min ish): get out your baking pan, open the salsa jar (my wrist strength is nil), take out the cheese pouch & open it a little, get the can opener for the tuna cans.
When the water’s boiling, dump in your pasta from the pasta&cheese box. That’ll take 10-12min. You’ll also need to stir the past every once in a while. So I generally open a can of tuna & fork out all the tuna into the 9-inch pan, stir, open the other can & dump the tuna in, stir, mash the tuna up & spread it around with the fork, stir, clean the tuna cans, & finally stir, now testing whether the pasta’s done or not. I turn the stove off by now.
Drain the pasta, but don’t rinse it. I don’t have a strainer, so I typically pour as much water out into the sink without pouring out the pasta, then I hold a plate over the pan and drain the rest of the water that way. You want to leave a little bit in there (leave it…moist, not floating) if you’re using cheese sauce because it mixes / stirs better, I’ve found.
Once the pot with the wet pasta still inside is back on the stove top, squeeze the cheese sauce out of the packet onto the pasta. Stir it all up until you’ve got rather evenly-cheesy pasta.
At this point, I remember to preheat the oven. (Otherwise I do a bunch of waiting after everything.) Preheat to 385 or somewhere around there.
Take the pot and pour the cheesy pasta over the tuna in the 9-inch pan. Take your stirring spoon and mix it all up (or leave it as is if you like layers). The pan oughta be somewhat full at this point, so do the scoop-then-flip-it way of stirring rather than the going-around-town way of stirring.
When you’re satisfied with the mixing, take your salsa & pour it over the mix in the pan. I like to leave a layer of salsa on top, but you can mix it if you like that.
Spread some shredded cheese on top of the salsa layer. I layer it thicker rather than thinner so you can’t see the salsa beneath.
Put pan in oven. Set the timer for 40min. That usually works for me.
Go do something for 40min. Read. Do dailies. Surf Twitter. Whatever. Actually, I typically clean up the pot and put my ingredients away and clean out the salsa jar & tuna cans & throw them away. Sometimes I’ll time it so that it’s in the oven at 7pm, and then I can go log into WoW and get WoL set up to go & make sure Vent is ready, and I’ll open some strat videos and watch them before the food is done.
After 40m, come back, pull pan out with oven mitts. (Careful! Is hot! Let it cool a bit before you eat.) Serve onto plate (or bowl). Devour & Enjoy.
My particularly favorite serving is with my beer & then with raiding. But you can Devour & Enjoy how you want.
Regarding how tasty it is: I’m not one who eats a lot normally. Or eats fast. But it’s fairly easy and expected for half the pan to be gone by raid break for me, and quite often, I’ve gone back to get my 2nd serving before raid even starts. 😀