Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mac 'n Cheese

You know that age-old, slightly morose question... What would your last meal be?  I've never had a problem answering that, no matter what new and amazing foods I eat and no matter where I may travel, I will always go back to this none-to-classy... Mac 'n Cheese, PLEASE!!!
The surprising element to this is that I NEVER make it for myself.  I'm perfectly happy with a few choice frozen "entrees".  (Amy's is good and Trader Joes' is AMAZING).  It's all too easy to pop in the oven and sit back wait for the oozing gooey cheesy one million calorie mess of deliciousness.  (Served with an enormous side of sauteed kale some how makes me feel healthy and almost guilt-free.)

After I made this classic recipe from Martha Stewart (who else??), I think I may know why, deep down, I've never made this from scratch.  It has something to do with the copious amounts of butter and cheese that make it so damn good and so bad all at the same time.  It's not like I didn't know mac 'n cheese isn't exactly kind to the waist-line, but once you see with your own eyes how much cheese and butter and (whole) milk goes into this baby, you might want to do as I usually do and rip open a box of the frozen stuff and throw away the box before you accidentally read the nutrition facts. That said, this is really good, and every once in a while, I believe, we all deserve to simply eat the bleep out of any food that makes us happy and content!

Side note: I used Gruyere cheese made with raw milk which I believe affected the way it melted, especially on the top, which is why it looks kind of funky in the photo.   I also used gluten-free quinoa elbow noodles which seem to absorb much of the cheesy bechamel sauce, this recipe could be made gluten free by substituting the noodles out and using a gluten-free flour, like spelt flour.  The results won't be as creamy and classic, but still a good substitute.
I also subbed out panko crumbs for the bread crumbs and that was a very simple and easy substitute.

Martha Stewart's Mac 'n Cheese
Serves 12

6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

2. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

4. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.


Tansy said...

amen sista! there is no better deliciously gooey comfort than melted cheese. i will have to make you my mom's recipe mac n' cheese one of these days. 4 kinds of cheese!!

p.s. love your blog header :)

celeste kellerhouse said...