Sunday, January 4, 2009
MACARONI AND CHEESE
Today's post rings out the old year--I know, I 'm a few days late. It's a decadent, comfort food, based on another Ina Garten recipe. It's by no means a healthy choice unless you're somehow able to eat a half cup portion, and I'd like to meet that person. What elevates this mac n' cheese above others is the addition of Gruyere cheese and freshly-made bread crumbs. Of course, you can use all cheddar cheese, if you're a purist, but I recommend breaking out of the box and using a heady Gruyere.
Be forewarned, friends in Foodieland, that Monday begins a new focus for The Food of Love. Or, should I say, a return to a healthier style of eating. Undoubtedly, there will be exceptions, but I hope to at least begin the New Year with good intentions. Yes, we all know where that road leads...
Meanwhile, this mac n' cheese can stand on its own, or it makes a wonderful accompaniment to a spiral ham.
Serves 6 - 8 (very generously)
1 lb pasta (I love these spirals or cavatappi)
1 quart milk
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
12 oz grated Gruyere cheese
8 oz extra sharp grated cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups fresh, white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
**In Barefoot Contessa, Family Style, Ina Garten's recipe calls for 3/4 lb small tomatoes, sliced and arranged on top under the breadcrumbs; I omitted this step because the tomatoes available now would dessecrate this dish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling, salted water
Add the pasta and cook according to package directions (cook al dente)
Heat the milk in a small saucepan (do not boil)
Melt 6 tbs butter in a large pot and add the flour
Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, whisking the whole time
While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for another 2 minutes until thickened and smooth
Remove from the heat and add the Gruyere, cheddar, 1 tbs salt, pepper, and nutmeg
Add the cooked and drained pasta
Pour into a 3 qt shallow baking dish
Melt the remaining 2 tbs butter
Combine with fresh bread crumbs
Sprinkle over pasta
Bake 30-35 minutes
Sigh, savor, sin!