January 24, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese (and New House and Moving!)

Hello! Thank you for being patient as we made our way from the South to New England. As you may recall, we have a wonderful dog, so we drove up while the movers made their way. I would describe the road trip as 'character building' at times... like the first night when our son was very unhappy and stayed up about 2 1/2 hours past his normal bedtime- one would think screaming for such a long duration was sufficiently tiring... But, parts were surprisingly good- we drove through every Chick-fil-a we saw, since we knew we would soon be out of Chick-fil-a country- and they have really, really good kids' meal toys. That little book they gave us on the Red Caboose was such a hit- by the end of the road trip I think I said to my husband, they could have charged me $100 for that book and I would have paid it, seriously, it was that helpful. Also, a chipmunk toy from a McDonald's happy meal bought us A LOT of time at a restaurant for dinner, thank GOODNESS!!!

In any event, here we are! I have made my peace with the fact that I'll have to now make my own fruit tea, pimento cheese, ham salad and fried pickles- (these are one of our son's favorite things to eat). Before I left the South, I had the most delightful conversation with my dentist and the hygienist about fried pickles- do you prefer the spears or the chips? I have actually only ever had the chips, but I would happily give the spears a chance. When I figure out how to do these well- you got it- it's going on the blog!

Here's a macaroni and cheese recipe I think you will really like- it has bacon (yes, I had you at bacon, didn't I?) and sautéed onions and three types of cheese. I was concerned that because it was somewhat 'elevated' in terms of the types of cheese used that our two year old wouldn't like it, but he goes for it when it's in front of him!

Macaroni and Cheese
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
7 pieces raw bacon, cut into 1/4" wide pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove (minced or put through a press)
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 lb. sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 lb. mascarpone cheese
1/3 lb. Robusto (or similar aged Gouda)
4 cups whole milk
3 Tbsp. flour
Breadcrumbs (optional)
1 lb. Conchiglie pasta (or similar sized pasta)

Preheat the oven to 300. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and unsalted butter. Get your bacon and onion ready, they will be being cooked first. When the butter has melted, add the pieces of bacon and cook over medium to medium-low heat. This will take probably 7-9 minutes to get the bacon somewhat crispy, you don't want to overdo it, since they'll continue to cook with the onion. Add the onion; cook until the onions are thoroughly translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the milk; reduce the heat to medium low if it is a little higher than that. Heat the milk, stirring somewhat often, until it starts to bubble around the sides a little. Add the flour and stir well, you want all the flour to dissolve. Allow to cook; stirring a little, for about 5-10 minutes, you should see some degree of thickening of the milk.

Meanwhile, heat your water to boil your pasta. As I'm sure you've heard me say before, don't salt your water until it's boiling, it makes the salt stick to the bottom of your pot and it's hard to get off! Ok- so when your water is boiling, and you've salted it, add the pasta. The pasta I use recommends cooking 14-16 minutes- but I do 10 instead- remember, this pasta is going to cook an additional amount of time in the oven, so underdo it.

Back to the milk / béchamel sauce we are making... So your milk has thickened a little, go ahead and add the cheese and turn off the heat. Stir well to incorporate. Some thoughts on cheese- I use pretty sharp cheddar, but do what's right for you! You can also experiment a little, omit the Robusto and use extra cheddar of a different variety, or, I would imagine gruyere would be delicious.

Once your pasta is cooked to your liking, strain it and add it to the cheese sauce, coating the pasta well. Now, in shallow baking dishes (like a pie plate or a lasagna pan), ladle in the macaroni and cheese. Top with breadcrumbs (optional). Bake at 300 for 30 minutes. Enjoy! This makes a very decent amount, so I put it in several containers and freeze a few of them (before baking). When I'm ready to bake the frozen dishes, I just leave them in for longer, about 40-45 at 300 should do the trick.


1 comment:

Jenn Halloran said...

Hahaha! One of Sam's favorite books to date is one from a Chik-Fil-A meal! Glad you guys made it safe & (somewhat) sound to your new home! Can't wait to try this Mac-n-cheese recipe. Miss you guys already!