Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mac and Cheese

I’m reading a really awesome book right now. So good, in fact, that I am going to wait until I finish it to write my blog. If you want to get a head start: Reading Lolita in Tehran = extreme awesomeness. Go to your library, order it online, whatever. Just read it, and I promise to get you the full book report next Thursday!

So in the meantime, I have a fantastic recipe for you.

It’s not sweet, because believe it or not, I do eat normal food on the rare occasion.

And it’s perfect for a cold winter day. Curl up on your couch, turn on some Winter Olympics (Did anyone see the Women's Downhill last night??? Women's Super Combined is on tonight!) and have a nice deep bowl of Mac and Cheese – grown-up style!

This recipe is from my favorite Food Network Star – Ina Garten. It's in her Family Style Cookbook, which is the first cookbook I ever owned. She’s fabulous, and this recipe is fabulous as well.

Mac and Cheese

- serves 6 to 8 -


Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (made from 5 slices white bread, crusts removed)


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drizzle oil into the boiling water, add the macaroni, and cook according to package instructions, 6-8 minutes. Drain well.

2. Meantime, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but do not allow it to boil. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour all at once. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Whisk in the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off heat, stir in the Gruyère, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart (9 x 13-inch) baking dish.

3. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, toss with the fresh bread crumbs to coat evenly, and sprinkle all over the top of the casserole. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.

Mmmmmm mac and cheese. Yum!

And you could really add anything to this recipe. Meat, veggies, whatever! 

My Variations:

-       Skim (not whole milk)

-       Half breadcrumbs, half crushed White Cheddar CheeseIts for the crust

-       I added one bundle of asparagus to the béchamel sauce as I mixed it into the pasta.