Saturday, April 14, 2012

My First Real Macaroni and Cheese

I can't believe it's taken me this long to make macaroni and cheese from scratch. However, through a happy Groupon-related incident, we have multiple pounds of 100% grass-fed cheddar sitting around. Delicious and nutritious! Vitamin K2 comes in such delicious packages that its scarcity in most of our diets is a shame on multiple levels. On meatless days I tend more toward eggy main courses, but c'mon - macaroni and cheese is totally inspired, right? It was to me, anyway.

It probably took me longer to figure out how I would go about this than the actual cooking time entailed. You see, I grew up as most of us probably did, eating Kraft mac n' cheese at least once a week, and Velveeta shells when we persuaded Mom to get the "good stuff". Cringe. The occasional macaroni and cheese from scratch that I encountered at family functions actually disgusted me in my days as a super-duper-ridiculously-picky child, but a combination of exiting adolescence and nixing all gluten liberated me to being merely a picky eater. I feel like an exotic food connoisseur in comparison, despite not even liking Mexican food
. Really. Or chili. Or anything spicy. Or peaches. Or lots of other random foods that are normally considered delicious. Suffice it to say I was the kind of kid who lived primarily on cereal without the milk, PB&J, grilled cheese, pasta if free of sauce, and mac n' cheese that came out of a box. Do we wonder why I developed such a terrible problem with gluten?

Getting back on track, I knew that this couldn't be hard to make from scratch, but exactly how would I do it? I doubt the custom of baking macaroni would come about simply because people like doing extra work, so I knew a broiling of cheese would be in order. Part of the point of having enameled cast iron cookware is that it can go from stovetop to oven, so I refused to do something involving more than one pot or dish, just because knew I could figure it out.

This ended up being my template, and I found the nutmeg subtle but a remarkable addition that I advise against skipping. The two of us polished it off with some green salad and called it dinner. As a side it should serve four.

Mr. D was rather crestfallen that we were having this on a Friday and thus were not putting sausage or diced bacon in it, but we both enjoyed it anyway. I expect we'll just have to have it again soon, properly porked.

Simple Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups (a bit less than 1/2 lb.) gluten free pasta; I didn't have macaroni so I used fusilli
2 cups whole milk, plus extra if necessary
6 T. butter
1/2 t. mustard powder
several shakes of nutmeg
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1 cup finely grated cheese of your choosing, plus more to top before broiling

I added 1 t. salt as well and this ended up being a tad extra salty, so I think you should just salt to taste at the dinner table since saltiness will vary anyway based upon your choices of butter and cheese

Combine all ingredients except cheese in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently to avoid scorching on the bottom and to ensure pasta cooks evenly.

Reduce heat and let pasta cook until soft, about 15-20 minutes, while still stirring often. If the pasta:liquid ratio is getting too high, add milk, a little at a time, and make sure you're cooking over a low heat.

Stir in grated cheese. Turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for five minutes to allow pasta to absorb a bit more liquid.

If your saucepan is not safe for the broiler, transfer its contents to a greased dish that is. Note that your choice of pan gives you power over how much delectable broiled cheesy goodness there shall be. Top your dish with additional grated cheese and place directly under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until desired browning is achieved. Serve while still warm.

1 comment:

  1. I was a picky eater as a child and love things now that I used to hate and loathe (such as lasagna, spaghetti, PB&J). Glad you started a blog Mrs. D and the anecdote before the recipe is quite an smudging and fun touch. Hope you're doing well =)