Monday, August 29, 2011
Baked Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese ~ Three General Rules
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...
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
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!!!
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!
*Oh, and add lots of butter and enjoy with a cold, dark beer!
So I guess that's 5 RULES...WHAT ARE YOUR RULES???
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
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
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.