Monday, August 29, 2011

Baked Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese ~ Three General Rules

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Amongst the debate on Saturday as to whether or not people were overreacting to Irene, was another equally important discussion...Macaroni and Cheese.

Pretty much everyone agreed that as far as comfort food was concerned, Macaroni and Cheese ranks at the top of the list...

What wasn't agreed upon by all was whether people preferred theirs super soft and creamy ...or baked with a bit of a crunch.

These pictures and recipe depict the latter...

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And while I'm not into, "lots of rules" in the kitchen... 3 general rules when making Macaroni and Cheese from scratch are as followed...

1.) Pick a good noodle, one that will "hug" and soak in the flavors

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2.) Choose quality cheese (or cheeses). When I say "quality" I mean ones that taste good ...there's nothing worse than using a bland, flavorless cheese ~ make those calories count!!!

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3.)  Homemade breadcrumbs. If you've gone so far to make Macaroni and Cheese from scratch...you best be using homemade breadcrumbs...I will admit to cheating here in the past but (make no mistake) I was ALWAYS disappointed!


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*Oh, and add lots of butter and enjoy with a cold, dark beer!

So I guess that's 5 RULES...WHAT ARE YOUR RULES???

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Baked Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

16 oz. pasta of choice, cooked al dente drained well but not rinsed
7 T butter 3-3-1
2T four
1/2 c. shallot
8 oz. cheddar
8 oz. Gouda (smoked would be nice)
4 oz. Gruyere
4 oz. goat cheese (optional)
1/2 c half/half or heavy cream
1/2 c milk
2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less according to preference)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs
kosher salt to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large pot, melt 3T. butter over medium heat, saute up the shallot until sizzling and fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Add 2T. flour and whisk for about 2-3 minutes to cook the flour. While whisking, slowly add your heavy cream, milk and cayenne pepper and whisk until ingredients are well incorporated and thickening. Add your cheddar, Gouda and Gruyere cheese and mix together until a cheese sauce forms.

Next, add your al dente cooked pasta to your hot cheese sauce and fold together well to coat the noodles. Taste. Add kosher salt if necessary.

In a separate pan (I used a cast iron skillet) melt your other 3T butter over medium heat until bubbling, add your chopped garlic and cook about 1-2 minutes, add your fresh bread crumbs and stir around until fragrant and toasted, about 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

In a buttered casserole dish or ramekins, add your macaroni and cheese, top with the garlic bread crumbs and goat cheese if you're using and then take your last tablespoon of butter and dab it around the top.

Bake in the oven about 20 minutes or until the cheese in bubbly and the top is lightly browned and crunchy.

Irene's Aftermath...
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12 comments:

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Oh no!! Irene's aftermath is a doozie!! it'll take minutes to clean that up!! LMAO! :) Glad you are all ok! The mac & cheese looks amazing. My 5 rules for mac & cheese are pretty much the same as yours. Good pasta is MUST (if I'm baking it I under cook the pasta so it can absorb the cheese sauce & finish cooking in the oven), good cheese with lots of flavor, and the homemade bread crumbs is a must. you covered them all!

Julie said...

The absolute best comfort food! Your recipe looks great, will try it today. Thanks.

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

I'm glad Irene wasn't as bad as they expected! I will gladly read about rules when they apply to mac and cheese! Agree with you on the homemade breadcrumbs. The only other rule I have is I like a bit of mustard in mine to balance out all that creaminess. Goodness - love mac and cheese. Wish I had some now!

Aarthi said...

this is so delicious...I love it..Thanks for the recipe...

Karen said...

Oh my goodness...this is one serious mac and cheese! I can definitely live by those rules, especially the one about enjoying with a beer!
Hope all is well after Irene...

StephenC said...

Here in DC Irene turned out to be a real bust.

Clint said...

I like mine soft and creamy but will love it any way you fix it. My wife agrees with your rules. I like mine with some unsweet cornbread and a mess o' butter beans and some unsweet tea.

Lea Ann said...

My only Mac and Cheese rule is to have enough cheese so it's not dry. The ooey and gooeyer the better. Looks beautiful and now thanks to you I'll be craving mac and cheese until I make it. Yum.

Jenn said...

I have the same rules as you basically, when it comes to mac and cheese. Though, really, the one true rule is to just eat it. Creamy, baked, whatever... I'll eat it!

Amy J. and Tiffanie A. said...

OH MY MACARONI!!! I am a SUCKER for macaroni and cheese! This recipe is making me drool right now!

Nicole said...

New rule- make Carolyn's mac and cheese at least once a month!!! That looks so delicious! (Yes, David Lebovitz, I said "Delicious")

jackiebell said...

Ok, that aftermath picture really made me laugh out loud. How rude to the poor folks who are still without power (as of Thursday even) - which, as you know, makes it all the funnier to me. As for the mac and cheese, you somehow forgot to mention what good finger food it makes late in the evening.