08 July 2010

Recipe: Basic Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

The time has finally come! Since it's taken 3 previous posts to get here, without further ado, I present my recipe for....

Basic Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

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Servings: 4 Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 10 min

Here's what you need:
  • 3 TB butter 
  • 3 TB flour 
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups milk (whole is best) 
  • 5-6 ounces of grated cheese(s) of your choice (to keep it traditional, I use one part gouda, one part muenster, 1 part sharp cheddar, appx. 1/2 cup each) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp nice, sharp mustard 
  • 1 lb pasta 
  • Optional: diced tomatoes

Here's what you do:
  • Boil your water for your pasta, salt, and start the pasta cooking. Make your cheese sauce while your pasta is cooking (they should be finished about the same time) - drain and set aside when done, keeping warm if necessary. Note, this recipe does not go into the oven, so you want your pasta to be fully cooked. 
  • Assemble your Mornay Sauce: 
    • Make a roux with the butter and flour. Cook until just lightly golden and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. 
    • Gradually whisk your milk into the roux, and cook until thickened completely, 3-4 minutes 
    • Add your cheese about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking until melted fully and incorporated, about 4-5 minutes. Once you've added all of your cheese, add the mustard if using, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed 
  • Add your hot pasta to the cheese sauce, and stir to coat. Garnish with chopped tomatoes if you'd like.
  • That's it. Eat it and enjoy! 

And so ends my Mac and Cheese Series. I hope you enjoyed it. Please, feel free to get creative with the blank canvas I've supplied here. If you want to get really crazy, feel free to try some of the following combinations:

-Fajita Mac: Add a little chili powder and lime zest to your Béchamel, then add your cheeses (Cheddar-Jack, Muenster, Gouda, cream cheese) and a TB or two of sour cream. You can then stir in sauteed onions, pepper, and fajita steak/chicken (great use of leftovers). Feel free to add a little beer as well.

-Swiss Fondue Mac: Add in a pinch of nutmeg and a splash of dry white wine to your Béchamel before incorporating your cheeses(Gruyère, Fontina, Emmenthaler). You can even add some sauteed veggies to complete the Fondue experience. (I've started looking to The Melting Pot for cheese combos)

-Crazy Awesome Mac: Right after adding your milk, throw in pinches of cinnamon or nutmeg, garlic powder, and yellow curry powder, along with about 2 tsp fresh thyme, and about 1 tsp of sambal (or hot sauce of your choice). Allow the herbs and spices to infuse into the milk, then add your cheese (Edamer and Muenster). Meanwhile, caramelize one small onion in a skillet; add about 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes until they break open and start to caramelize. Add 1 minced clove of garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Stir the onion-tomato mixture into your cheese sauce along with 2-4 fl oz of ale, then add your pasta. Freaking awesome, let me tell you.

And in case you missed it, the rest of the Mac & Cheese series that led up to this exciting finale:

Part III: Cheesy Choices & Mornay

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