Here's the thing. I was chattin' away with an old buddy of mine when he let slip that he still likes the instant-crappy evil blue box version of mac-n-cheese. Full of orangey (new word?) toxic death. After some mocking it occurred to me that HECK I make a pretty good mac-n-cheese. Perfect dish for this time of year. On the other hand, I am really really really lactose intolerant. That's a new thing for me, time was I could eat my weight in dairy and then I hit 40 and it all went to heck. I don't care, it hasn't stopped me. The bloating is totally worth it.
I also got some terrific looking Brussels Sprouts from the market. That's the side for the day.
Sure, this may sound like the fussy-chef version but heck if you want the best, use the best. The cool thing about Mac-n-cheese is how easy and variable it is. You can add or subtract any number of ingredients. As long as the basic formula is met, everything else is fair game.
Today I've got some Tomatoes from the garden, some Chipotle, one Shallot and a head of Roasted Garlic. I'll be using my favorite combination of cheeses, Gruyere and aged White Cheddar. If you've got a favorite combo, then by all means.
First things first though. I trimmed up the Sprouts, tossed with oil, salted and peppered added some fresh Rosemary and garlic powder. Wrapped loosely in foil and threw them on the grill.
|the only way to make Brussels Sprouts|
Also, sliced the tops off the head of garlic, drizzled with a little oil,
In a little bit (40 minutes or so at 400) pulled 'em off. Done.
CHEF NICK'S MAC-N-CHEESE: geesh finally
1/2 pound large pasta (I used Cellentani) Par-cooked
2 cups whole milk, heated
1/2 stick butter (yes, butter)
equal amount White Flour
1 cup of shredded cheese. Again I use Gruyere and aged White Cheddar so half-half
big pinch of Black Pepper
1 minced Shallot
1 chopped up Chipotle
some large diced fresh Tomato
1 TB roasted Garlic
For the top
1 cup bread-crumbs
some grated either Parmesan or Romano cheese
mix those together, easy
Of course we cook the noodles before-hand. I like the ones that look like piggy tails. They hold the sauce beautifully. Drain and set aside.
Here's a thing. The sauce we are about to make is classic Mornay. It's French. Remember that the next time you make fun of France. It starts as Bechamel, we add cheese. Voila.
Is there anything better than melted Butter? No, not really.
Toss for a bit and add the Flour. Stir around until it stops smelling starchy.
That's called a ROUX. Add the milk a little at a time. If you heat the milk like say, in the micro-wave you get less lumps. Use a whisk and keep going.
If you can drag across the back of the spoon with your finger it's good. We call that NAPE.
Season with salt and pepper. Add the Chipotle and Garlic. Stir.
Turn off the heat. Keep whisking until everything comes together into a cheesy smooth pot of goodness. Add the noodles.
Using a spatula toss them together, next add the Tomatoes. let them get to know each other.
Whisper sweet words into the pot. Say "I love you." and "My Momma loves you."
"You know who doesn't love you??? All the jack-hats who think that the crap in that blue box is edible" Sean?
Take out and un-cover. Top with the bread-crumb stuff and put it back in the oven to brown on top (uncovered). This took maybe another 10-15 minutes for me. Keep an eye on it. Pull it out.
|glows like the sun|
YOU let the people behind the blue box tell you that their orange crap was the real deal.
I'm here to tell you that you can do better. Yes you can. Today we win.
Here's the thing. Macaroni and Cheese starts with maybe five ingredients. The blue box folks added 20 on top of that. I call bullshit.
Cooking poor, eating rich
get your grub on