A Tribute to Mac ‘n Cheese

I know I’ve posted about this before, but I just love mac ‘n cheese. To me, it is the ultimate in pasta. The best mac ‘n cheese has a crunchy top, great flavours, cheesy texture and firm (but not hard) noodles. I’ve been on the quest for the perfect mac ‘n cheese for some time now, and I think last night, I hit it pretty square on the head. Here is a little photo essay in tribute to the mac ‘n cheese. (The recipe is adapted from the Rebar cookbook.)

Begin by prepping your ingredients. You’ll need a few garlic cloves, some onion and mushrooms. I generally use whatever I have on hand. Tonight was mini bella and button.

Grate the cheeses. It’s an important step, because things come together a bit quickly once you’ve got the roux going. Tonight I used cheddar, mozarella, romano, ricotta, and parmesan.

Next, saute the onions in some butter. When the onions are fragrant, add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, adding some salt and pepper. Then add the garlic, cook for another minute or so, and add some thyme and oregano.

Remove the mushrooms from heat, and put a pot of water on to boil. In a separate pot, heat about 1/2 a cup of butter until it melts. Add the pasta to the boiling water, and begin the roux. In the pot with the butter, slowly add 1/4 cup of kamut flour, whisking as you go. After all the flour is in there, add approx 1 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of water, whisking as you slowly add the cream and water. The sauce should be nice and thick now. It’s helpful to have someone else help you with this. You may need to thicken the sauce slightly, so give it another couple of minutes on the heat, whisking constantly. Then add the cheeses slowly, whisking and combining them, avoiding lumps. When all the cheese is added (except the parmesan), add the mushroom mixture and remove the sauce from heat.

Drain the pasta, and then add it to the sauce, mixing well.

Next, pour the mixture into a baking dish. For the topping, combing about 1-2 cups of bread crumbs (wheat free, of course!), the parmesan cheese, and some pine nuts. Add some salt and pepper, and sprinkle on top of the baking dish. Bake at 350f for about 40 minutes, or until it is warmed through and the top is crunchy and lightly browned.

Serve hot with lots of pepper, wine, and good company.

We were lucky enough to have both Tammy and our friend Thor over for dinner last night. It was a bit nerve racking, because I was cooking for three formerly professional cooks, one of whom had participated in the great mac ‘n cheese cookoff of 2007 (I was the judge, natch). But I think it turned out. At least I thought it was delicious. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “A Tribute to Mac ‘n Cheese

  1. Awesome! I scored Jess’s Mac and Cheese recipe!

    I am cooking Rebar’s Rio Grande Lasagna right now. Actually, I am taking a break and watching TV right now. I just finished the cilantro pesto and smoky tomato sauce and I need a bit of a rest. There is cilantro all over the kitchen.

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