Saturday, 21 December 2013

Cheese O.D. Baked Mac n' Cheese

Hello everyone! As promised, I am back with a new recipe!

For those wondering, my move went very well and very smoothly. A huge thank you to this awesome moving crew: Véronique, Mike, Paul, Richard, Sam, Jonathan, Amanda, Karine and John! I could never have done it without you!! The place came together in a pinch and I already feel right at home in my new digs! If you want to see what it looks like, keep an eye on my Instagram (punkygabz), as I plan on putting up pics very soon! As you can see, the cat wasted no time getting comfortable:

Once my books were unpacked (15 boxes!), all I wanted to do was to break in my lovely new kitchen! I also promised my readers some delicious comfort food recipes, and I am nothing if not a woman of my word!

In the broad category of "comfort food", does anything hit the spot better than macaroni and cheese? Gooey melted cheese, pasta, gooey melted cheese, pasta... Sure, it's a sin against decent nutrition, but who cares? Sometimes, it's just was the Feelgood M.D. ordered!

When I got the urge for some of that decadent pasta bake, I absolutely had to made it from scratch: the color of Kraft Dinner is enough to make my stomach churn, never mind the taste and texture... But most mac and cheese recipes I have come across require you to prepare a tedious bechamel: I didn't want to spend time making that (no to mention the extra pot and pan cleaning... ugh), I just wanted to stuff my face with cheese until I had to roll out of my chair.

Thank goodness, Nadia G's recipe was exactly what I was looking for: just cheese! I took the liberty of adding a hint of garlic (come on, Nadia! What kind of Italian are you!) and a bit of nutmeg, which tends to elevate dairy-based dishes to a whole other level of "OMG-this-is-crack" (my gratin dauphinois, for example).

Fontina cheese might be something you've never tried before: it's a nutty, semi-soft Italian cheese. The real deal is quite pungent, but the imported stuff tends to be a lot milder. If you can't find it, or don't like it, emmental or mozzarella are great substitutes. You could even use some Parmiggiano-Reggiano if you prefer sharp-tasting cheeses. As long as it's a cheese that melts well, you're fine.

1 package dry macaroni or fusilli pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1 cup aged Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Swiss or Gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup Fontina (or emmental or mozzarella) cheese, grated
Sea salt and ground pepper
A handful of bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil pasta in salted water until half cook, 6 to 7 minutes. Drain, and set aside. Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, the onions and garlic. Sauté until soften, about 8 minutes.

Add the milk, bay leaf and nutmeg. Bring mixture to a slow boil, then turn the heat to medium-low.

Throw in the cheeses and some freshly cracked pepper. Stir until melted, then taste; adjust seasoning.

Remove the bay leaf. Grease a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the pasta to the sauce; mix to coat every noodle. Pour in the baking dish and sprinkle liberally with bread crumbs.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

I'm cheese-crazy, so I grated extra Swiss cheese and extra mozzarella on top of my pasta before sprinkling my bread crumbs. Sue me.And trust me, it was as amazing as it sounds. You should have seen my best friend and I stuff our faces as if our lives depended on it...

I am familiar with the tradition of adding cocktail sausages to a batch of mac and cheese. But after an amazing dinner at Diablos BBQ, I strongly suggest using chopped chorizo instead, especially if you like a little spicy kick. I mean, if you are going to put yourself in a cheese and pasta induced coma, why not add some spicy sausages? Cut some chorizo into little bite-sized pieces until you have about 1/2 cup and throw in the sauce along with the pasta (remember to get rid of the thin skin from around the chorizo before adding it to the sauce).

If you'd rather counter the guilt of stuffing your face with all that cheese with some veggies, broccoli and/or cauliflower florets and a small can of diced tomatoes (drained!) will make it a somewhat healthier pasta bake.

Grab a fork, a glass of dry white wine and devour a big bowl of this little cheesy sin while watching something equally cheesy!

No comments:

Post a Comment