Mel’s Diner

Sharp Knives, Raw Meat and Fire

MIKE’S MAC AND CHEESE

The first time Clearblogs, my first blog hosting service disappeared, I said I wasn’t all that unhappy because it gave me a chance to repost all of my best recipes.  Of course, Clearblogs reappeared and I never reposted any of the great recipes.

Then, just a month or so ago, Clearblogs disappeared again and this time, it looks for good.  So, I’m taking this opportunity to repost some of what I consider my best recipes.  And one of the best is Mike’s Mac and Cheese.  This post will actually be the THIRD time it has graced the cyber-pages of Mel’s Diner.  The first post was obviously the original Mel’s Diner post and it re-appeared as a link on a Best of… post. 

I made this two times this weekend, perfecting the recipe.  I made it on Saturday for the family to eat for dinner that night and again on Sunday to bring in to work for some very deserving friends. 

As I said in the original post, what makes this Mac and Cheese so good in the Béchamel Sauce (actually an extra cheesy Mornay Sauce).  Steeping the diary in a mirepoix and bouquet garni adds a depth of flavor to the resulting cheese sauce that regular mac and cheese can never match.  Trust me, if I had this as a weapon in high school (or college), I would have had a lot more girlfriends that I did.  Chicks dig guys who can cook.

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • Bouquet Garni (bay leaf, peppercorns, parsley stems, thyme, etc.)
  • 4 cups of Light Cream
  • 2 tbs. of butter
  • 1 ½ cups of shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, muenster, etc. Must be at least half  Cheddar!)
  • ½ cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano 
  • 1 1/2 Tbls. flour
  • 2/3 pound of pasta
  • nutmeg, cayenne, salt and white pepper

Make the Béchamel:

Add the onion, carrot, celery and the bouquet garni into a large pan with the milk and cream.  You can see I couldn’t find my cheesecloth, so my bouquet ended up in the pot along with the mirepoix:

macandcheese12

Heat to a boil, turn off and allow the aromatics to steep in the dairy for thirty minutes.  After thirty minutes, strain the dairy into another pot and bring to a simmer.  While that is happening, melt the butter and add the flour.  Stir into a roux and cook the roux to a pale stage. Add the hot dairy and whisk until it comes to a boil.  After it thickens, it will be the consistency of gravy.

Make the Mac and Cheese:

Cook the pasta in another pot (I prefer small tube pasta, like macaroni) until totally done, no al dente, please.  Add the cheeses to the sauce and whisk to combine.  I used 1 cup of cheddar, one half cup of jack cheese and, of course, the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

 After the sauce is smooth, add the pasta to the sauce.  Add the nutmeg, cayenne, salt and white pepper to taste.  It is going to be VERY soupy – don’t panic.

macandcheese2 

As it cools, the pasta will soak up the sauce until it’s just right.  It seems dry, add more cream, or as I did the last time, a bit of the past water and re-taste for salt and pepper.

 macandcheese3

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February 16, 2009 - Posted by | Best Of...., Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe

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