Monday, September 17, 2012

Mac & Cheese redux

My idea of comfort food tends to steer a bit away from the traditional american fare - hotdogs, chicken nuggets, the orange neon radioactive noodles from the blue box - and to german influenced pound a piece of pork flat, dredge in flour, fry it up and cover in unctuous brown gravy. So I don't tend to go out of my way to remake the classics but better.

Then I went and got married to an occasional Catholic and suddenly this Lent thing meant needing to think of non-meat dishes for Friday and pretending I thought of something really good to give up. (For old readers this should seem old hat, what can I say three years blogging there's bound to be repeats)

Thus began my attempts to find a good homemade baked macaroni and cheese that does not put one in mind of ground up cheetos. My first attempt still reigns as my biggest kitchen disaster, it called for onions, a lot of it too, and there were complications. It wasn't creamy, just a large gelatinous blob of what was once cheese with some noodles clinging desperately for life encased within.

Next lent I tried again and stumbled across what is possibly the ambrosia of Mac & Cheese and also one of the quickest and easiest recipes in my arsenal.

You need

1. 8 ounces of pasta (It doesn't have to be elbow, I've done bowties and penne before)

2. 2 cups of cream

3. 1 & 3/4 cup milk

4. A crap ton of cheese. I prefer Cheddar (the kind that tries to bite your tongue back) and Emmentaler mostly because it's cheaper than Guyere but that and Swiss work just as well.

You will need to start the night before, which I rather enjoy. Take some time, make a big mess and then leave it for the morning.

Boil the pasta but only for 4 minutes. You'll want it very very al tooth.

While that is quickly boiling, grate cheese. I like a lot of cheese. The original recipe calls for one cup of each but I always do two and then throw in some shredded for a touch of color. Save back about a cup for the topping in a separate bowl.

Into the large bowl of grated cheese add the cream, the milk, the still hard pasta and some salt and pepper to taste. Then put that in the fridge to sit overnight and suck up the creamy goodness while you save Hawke's butt from getting killed by Qunari (or whatever it is normal people do).

*waves magic fairy wand*

It's tomorrow which means preheat the oven to 400. You'll also want to pull out the pasta bowl so it gets to room temp.

Dump the cheesy pasta into a 9X9 baking dish. Mix 3/4 cup of bread crumbs with some butter and the leftover cheese for that oh I think my taste buds exploded topping.

Now put your casserole dish into the oven for 15-20 minutes and voila!

My favorite oh my god this is so rich I can only eat a few bites before passing out in joy mac &cheese recipe. The fact it's so easy a focused gila monster with a culinary degree helps.

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