Friday, March 10, 2006

Contessa's Mac and Cheese

Oh, during the weeks of sickness we all watched a lot of TV. Especially FoodTV. Steph saw the Contessa make Mac and Cheese one day, and I swore the next time I had energy I'd make it. A few days ago, we were all feeling in need of comfort, so it was the perfect time to make this comfort dish.

The final product was really really really good. I'd say this recipe is even better than AB's, and you know how much I love him. But frankly, the Contessa's recipe was easier, less time consuming and tasted better.

Mac and Cheese
1 lb elbow macaroni
6 cups of cheese, shredded. I used swiss, white cheddar and fontina.
1 qt milk
1/2 cup flour
1 stick of butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 small tomatoes, sliced
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs. I used Panko.

Boil water, add pasta, cook 6-7 minutes and drain well.

In a medium sauce pan heat the milk, but don't boil.

In a large pot, I used the one I had just boiled the pasta in, add the stick of butter and melt. Add the flour, whisking constantly so there are no lumps. Cook two minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly. When all the milk is combined, cook 2 more minutes or until it is thick and smooth. Take off the heat and slowly add in the cheese. When all the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth, add the salt, pepper and nutmeg, then add in the cooked pasta. Mix it well and slide it all into a greased 13X9 glass dish. Slice the tomatoes and lay on top of the dish, cover the whole thing with the breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.

Previous Mac and Cheese attempts involved eggs and custards and curdling messes. But this recipe was simple and delievered a final product that had a great texture and flavor. This picture is blurry and the plate looks bare. We had a salad, but I was so excited I took a nervous picture and dug in quickly.

T-Rex loved her comfort food dinner. See the little T-Rex arms flailing!

We all loved the tomatoes on top, though we agreed summer tomatoes would be better than the ones I could get my hands on at the superfresh. I also thought that while I added a bit of salt and pepper to the crumb topping, it would perhaps be even more interesting if the topping was made up of half breadcrumbs and half barbecue potato chips. I know, I know, it sounds like every midwest casserole you grew up with, but think about it, the slightly sweet and salty tangy crunch constrasting with a rich and buttery sauce? You know it would be good.

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