Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recipe: Ina's Grown Up Mac and Cheese (altered)

Before Breadcrumbs and Baking
Right out of the oven

To me Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. I grew up eating Kraft Mac and cheese out of the box (my mother never made it from scratch). As my culinary tastes have evolved, I now prefer a heartier Mac with a variety of cheeses and plenty of it.

As I was leaving work last night, I did a mental image of my cupboards and fridge. I knew there wasn't much, and felt pure euphoria when I figured I had enough to make some homemade mac. I found a simply recipe on (my favorite recipe source) by the Barefoot Contessa and wha-lah! The original recipe called for at least a cup of some fancy cheeses, but I used a variety of cheddars that I already had.   The sauce was really thick and creamy, and  very very delicious. A super easy recipe!

**M Disclaimer: while this mac and cheese is very very good, it is not as good as M's. I don't think that there is a recipe in the world that can surpass it!**

Ina's Grown Up Mac and Cheese recipe is below, with my changes in red).
  • 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon (I used some pancetta that I had frozen already)
  • Vegetable oil (oil used in pasta, so you just need a dab)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi (Penne)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (Sharp Cheddar)
  • 3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (Mild Cheddar)
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled (Mexican Cheese Blend)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg (none)
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed (Store bought Bread Crumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves (Parsley)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes. (I used an 8 x 8 glass baking dish, and there was enough to fill it. Definitely enough for more than 2 servings.)

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

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