Mac & Cheese

Rich and creamy mac and cheese ready to go in the oven.

Rich and creamy mac and cheese ready to go into the oven.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I apologize for that. Things have been pretty busy around here. I’ve been finishing up my degree and today was the final day of classes. All the projects have been turned in. You can see some of the things I’ve been working on at my portfolio site. Graduation is next week and I have family traveling in from the West Coast to celebrate.

To help unwind from all the craziness I decided to make mac and cheese. One of my annoyances with mac and cheese (a lot of food really) is that people tend to under season. Mornay sauce itself can be pretty bland as is plain pasta. My way to combat this problem is to make sure to cook my pasta in heavily salted water and to season my mornay heavily. I use sharp cheddar cheese and an aged gouda, as well as add piquant spices like chili flakes, dried mustard, freshly ground black pepper and a hot paprika/pimenton.

Here’s the recipe.

Preheat the over to 400ºF

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded cheese
½ stick butter
1 egg lightly whipped
1 TBS flour
¼ tsp paprika
½ tsp dried mustard
¼ tsp chili flakes
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp freshly ground coarse sea salt

Cook the pasta in a large pot with plenty of salted water to just under al dente. Drain and set aside. The pasta will finish cooking in the oven.

In a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, melt the butter. When it starts to bubble whisk in the flour. Cook the flour and butter for about a minute. Then gradually add the heavy cream. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to stir. You’ll notice that the cream is starting to thicken up. Add in your spices and make sure they’re well incorporated into the cream. Take a few tablespoons of the hot cream and add them to the egg. Whisk together for a few seconds to temper the egg, then pour the egg into the larger batch of cream. Slowly add the shredded cheese into the cream and let each addition melt completely before adding the next. Once all the cheese is added in and melted, fold in the drained pasta and stir so that all the pasta is coated with the mornay sauce. Pour everything into a buttered casserole dish and bake in a 400ºF oven for 35 minutes. You can top the mac & cheese with crumbled up potato chips, bread crumbs or more cheese. I had some left over garlic crostini that I ground up in the food processor, so I used that as for my crumb topping. Enjoy!