Not Exactly a Confection

19 Jan

It’s 2011.  I know, shocking.  Well, yes, it’s kinda old news.  But sometimes it takes me a little while – like 19 days or so – for the new year to really sink in.

Come on.  I know I’m not the only one.

Anyway, I thought for this new year, I would do something new.  Like, I don’t, say post about a non-confection.  I know, shocking.  Don’t worry, it will just be now and then.

What do you think?  Yes?  No?

Well, let’s try one and see how it goes.

I’m going to start out easy.  With a good ole’ comfort dish.  Mac n’ cheese.

Start by grating the cheeses.  Yup, that’s with an ‘s’.  Gruyere and cheddar.
Get the seasons together.  Put aside for later.
Boil water.  Make sure it is very well salted.  This is your one chance to season the pasta. Believe it or not, the water should taste like ocean water (Mom didn’t believe it at first, either… she’s a convert).
Cook the pasta until al dente.
Drain and put aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the milk.  Make sure it doesn’t boil.  Trust me.  I speak from experience.
Also, melt the butter in a large pot.  I prefer a dutch oven.
Don’t have a dutch oven?  A large pot will do.  But, I should note that I highly recommend investing in a dutch oven.  This one is from Target.  Amazing.

Back to the baking… er, cooking.  While the butter is melting, make sure you have the flour and a whisk on stand by.
Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk together, cooking for a few minutes. (Apparently, I forgot to take a picture.  Oops!)
Slowly add the heated milk, whisking the entire time.
Once incorporated, take the mixture off the heat.  Add the cheese…
and the spices.
Mix well.  Add the pasta and stir together.
Pour into a baking dish.
Mix together the melted butter and the panko crumbs.  Sprinkle on the top and bake.
Looks good enough to eat, right?  Enjoy!

Macaroni and Cheese
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Olive oil
1 pound elbow macaroni (white, whole wheat or mixture)
1 quart milk
6 tablespoons butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces (4 cups grated) Gruyere cheese
8 ounces (2 cups grated) extra-sharp cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375℉.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water.  Add the macaroni and cook, according to the package, until al dente, typically 6-8 minutes.  Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a saucepan, but DO NOT boil.  Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter in a large pot.  Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook over low heat for 2 minutes.  While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for another minute or two, until it has slightly thickened and is smooth.

Remove from heat and add the cheeses, 1 tablespoon of salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Add the cooked macaroni and stir well.  Pour into a baking dish.

Mix together the 2 tablespoons of melted butter and the panko crumbs.  Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and browned on the top.

Source: slightly adapted from Ina Garten



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