Tuesday, February 10, 2009

mac 'n cheese

a clever headline or witty narrative would do nothing to properly exalt a dish so fundamentally simple and delicious as macaroni & cheese. whether out of the box or fresh out of the oven, mac 'n cheese is always a crowd pleaser. velveeta shells & cheese is my favorite boxed variety, so it should come as no surprise that i've incorporated it's processed goodness into my recipe.

but enough of this palaver, let's get this show on the road!


mac 'n cheese

1 # elbow pasta
2 oz unsalted butter, by weight
2 oz AP flour, by weight
1 qt whole milk
1 TBS dijon mustard
1/2 tsp hot sauce
(secret ingredient omitted)
(secret ingredient omitted)
2 cups shredded cheese, sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded cheese, three-cheese
4 oz velveeta (a MUST)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup plain breadcrumbs, as needed
salt and pepper to taste

-- pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
-- put a large pot of salted water up to boil
-- lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish



1. heat milk to just under a boil, whisk in dijon mustard and hot sauce, kill the heat.



2. make the roux: melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pot large enough to hold the total amount of milk you are using and then some; you will need the extra room when whisking the milk into the roux (unless you don't care about scalding yourself while making a mess of your stove top). once the butter is fully melted, add the flour all at once, stir to combine. cook over medium heat until the roux begins to pale in color and starts to resemble wet sand. kill the heat.



3. slowly combine the heated milk INTO the roux, whisking constantly. incorporate about a third of the milk each time you make an addition, whisking the mixture smooth each time. once all of the milk has been incorporated, bring it to a boil then reduce to a simmer. simmer for 5-10 minutes, skimming any gunk that rises to the top with a ladle or spoon. taste & season. at this point, the sauce should be of a medium-thick consistency; it should coat the back of a spoon and hold its form after running a finger through it.

a white sauce prepared this way is refered to as a béchamel.



4. DROP PASTA. cook until al dente. drain, toss with a touch of olive oil and reserve.

5. KILL THE HEAT. add the shredded cheese and stir to combine, the residual heat of the cream sauce will melt the cheese without it turning to shit. add the velveeta and parmesan, stir to combine. the béchamel will take on a lovely golden hue. taste and season.



6. combine cheese sauce with the reserved pasta and mix well. pour mac 'n cheese mixture into the greased 9x13 baking dish, dust with bread crumbs and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until bubbly. place under the broiler to brown the top; 2-5 minutes but KEEP WATCH or it WILL BURN!



7. allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. over-indulge.


© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" - http://www.missioninsatiable.com/

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