Grown Up Macaroni & Cheese
Would you believe I am a virgin?
Don't believe it.
Well I am a macaroni and cheese virgin!!!! I have never made it before in my life!!!
It's one of those things that I am afraid to have in the house for fear of devouring the entire casserole. I love it.
It snowed this weekend in New Jersey and besides shoveling snow in my apron and drinking wine, I decided to make mac and cheese after reading The Constables' Larder blog and saw his version. Giff's recipe looked so good and I was so in the mood.
After 2 glasses of wine, I started grating my knuckles.
I mean grating the cheese on a box grater!
(Hey, a little blood in the mix never hurt anyone!).
Over the years I have collected so many nice looking mac & cheese recipes but never actually made one! My SIL Linda loves Martha Stewart's recipe. She swears by it. Next time.
Tonight, I used Giff's recipe as a guide. I changed the cheese from cheddar to a mixture of half cheddar and half Comte (Gruyere).
I also used half and half (what the hell, go for it!!) because I did not have enough whole milk in the house and I substituted panko breadcrumbs for the breadcrumb mixture.
This was definitely an adult version. You really taste the lovely whole grain mustard and a bit of white wine. The fresh rosemary & thyme also dressed this version up a lot. The beautiful crust was my favorite part of the dish (as it always was with the Swanson frozen mac n cheese dinners of my childhood!).
I drizzled some truffle oil on top of the finished product and it was excellent & very adult!
So, I have now been inducted into the mac and cheese club.
Well it's about time!
Constables' Larder's Macaroni & Cheese: (changed a bit by me).
1 lb tube shaped pasta such as rigatoni or penne rigate (I used shells)
salt & pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp flour
3 1/2 cups milk (I used half & half mixed w/ milk)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard (I used whole grain)
1 lb aged cheddar cheese grated on large holes of a box grater (I used Comte & Cheddar)
1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs (I used panko crumbs)
1. preheat oven to 400. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 7 minutes -- you do not want the pasta to be fully cooked. Drain, then rinse under cold running water in a colander.
2. melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat (Giff likes to use a cast iron pan so he only has one pot to wash). Add onions, garlic, thyme, and rosemary and cook until onions are soft, 8-10 minutes. If you do not have fresh herbs, use a pinch of dried thyme. Add wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove and discard the sprigs of herbs (if you used dried herbs, just leave in the mix). Whisk in flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk then mustard. Reduce heat to keep the sauce at a gentle simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy. Remove pan from heat and stir in most of the cheese, leaving about 1/2 to 1 cup of cheese for the top. Stir in the cheese a handful at a time, stirring until completely melted after each addition. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I just mixed all the cheese together, did not bother w/ a top layer of cheese).
3. fold pasta into sauce and stir until well coated. If your pan is not oven-proof, transfer everything to a buttered baking dish. Scatter the remaining cheese on top, then sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake until crust is golden, about 25 minutes.
Drizzle with a little truffle oil to make it extra rich and special! Stylin'!