Tuesday, April 14, 2009
IT'S ANOTHER "GOOD THING" FROM MARTHA
Martha Stewart is one of those icons that you either love or hate. I readily admit I'm in the former camp. As one "anal retentive" to another, I have nothing but the utmost admiration for her abilities in the area of cooking and entertaining. I do not admire those characteristics she shared with the Queen of Mean (Leona H) or excuse her wrongdoings, though I point out that she, unlike many others, was punished for them.
While you may argue that many of her recipes are not her own or are too tedious to be included in your weekly rotation, as the saying goes, "when she's good, she's very good." For a recent family dinner, I made her macaroni and cheese. This is not a mac n' cheese for the faint of heart. Nor is it one that you can eat on a regular basis--not unless you've found a way to flush your arteries after each meal. This is a macaroni and cheese that begins with a pound of pasta and ends up weighing 10 pounds. It is ooey, gooey, rich, decadent, filling, silky, heady, sensuous. You get the picture.
The cheese sauce begins with a simple bechamel to which you add a mixture of shredded Gruyere and sharp cheddar. Depending on the quality of the cheese, it can be somewhat costly. I indulged in a good Gruyere and rounded it out with a preshredded sharp cheddar which I bought in a huge quantity (I froze the rest in 2 cup packages; a vacuum sealer is a great investment). I always prepare too much food and was, at first, skeptical that this would feed 12--especially my family. There was fully half of this left, not because it wasn't gobbled up, but because I served it with a corn souffle, spiral ham, peas, and homemade biscuits and because there's only so much mac n' cheese we mortals can consume in one seating.
I urge you to give this recipe a try. It put to shame all the other macaroni and cheese recipes I've made before (and some of those were mighty tasty). On the website where I found the recipe were many rave reviews. One of those referred to this dish as "crackaroni and cheese," citing its addictive qualities. I'd have to agree.
Please leave a comment if you try this. I'd love to know your opinion.
Macaroni and Cheese (adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook) - serves 12
8 tbs unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crust removed, chopped in food processor
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp Kosher salt, plus more for water
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups (18 oz) grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups (8 oz) grated Gruyere cheee
1 lb elbow macaroni
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 3 qt casserole dish and set aside.
Chop the bread and set aside. Melt 2 tbs butter and pour over the bread crumbs; toss and set aside.
Warm the milk in a medium saucepan. Melt the remaining 6 tbs butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring for one minute.
While whisking the flour and butter mixture, gradually add the hot milk. Remember to whisk constantly and to add the hot milk just a little at a time. You will be adding and whisking for 8-12 minutes, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
Remove the skillet from the heat and add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 3 cups of the cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups of the Gruyere. Stir until the cheese has melted. Set aside.
Cook the elbow macaroni al dente; you want it cooked on the outside, but underdone on the inside since it will cook further in the oven. Transfer to a colander, rinse under cold water, and drain well.
Stir the macaroni into the cheese sauce, then pour the mixture into the prepared casserole. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup of Gruyere, and the breadcrumbs over the top.
Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then prepare yourself for lots of ooohs and aaaahs.