Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dish | Mac & Cheese

I have been meaning to post this for awhile. One of my all time favorite dishes is Mac & Cheese. I grew up eating the classic Kraft Mac & Cheese, but occasionally - mostly holidays - my grandmother would make classic homemade Macaroni & Cheese. Whenever I see recipes in cookbooks, magazines or on websites of this classic American dish, I like to take notes and jot down anything that catches my eye. Over the past few years and through many rounds of experimenting in the kitchen I have finally come to a recipe that I consider all my own.

MAC & CHEESE  |  Recipe inspired by my grandmother.

6 tablespoons butter, divided by 1/2
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound cremini (brown) mushrooms, stems removed
1 red bell pepper, stem removed, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3 cups 2% milk
2 cups grated smoked gouda cheese
2 cups grated fontina cheese, divided by 1/2
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cumin
12 ounces cavatappi pasta
1 cup breadcrumbs

1  |  Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, sauté until translucent, roughly 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, mushrooms, red pepper, then flour. Stir constantly for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook and whisk occasionally until mixture begins to boil, roughly 5 minutes. Add 2 cups coarsely grated gouda and 1 cup fontina. Stir until cheeses melt, about 2 minutes. Stir in cayenne, nutmeg and cumin. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

2  |  Preheat oven to 350°F. Boil water in large pot over high heat. Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Stir macaroni into warm cheese sauce. Place half of macaroni in dish; smooth top. Top with remaining 1 cup fontina cheese. Top with remaining macaroni mixture; spread evenly.

3  |  Melt 3 tablespoons butter. Place breadcrumbs in medium bowl. Pour butter over; toss. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over mac & cheese. Bake mac & cheese until breadcrumbs are golden and edges are bubbling, roughly 30-40 minutes.

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