Sunday, December 25, 2011

Food: Mac and Cheese experiment

Christmas Eve is traditionally an evening of feasting at the in-laws' house every year.  This year promised to be no different, and I had the opportunity to invade my (amazing, awesome, generous, and dear) mother-in-law's kitchen to cook some kind of experiment.  Normally I operate on recipes and recipes alone for special occasions, but I had some ingredients on hand that were begging, nay, pleading for an experimental combination.

It started with dog-paw shaped pasta from Pastabilities that mommy-in-law got me as a gift.  Then I realized that we had applewood smoked cheddar and Adirondack cheddar in the house.  And onion.  And panko breadcrumbs.  Plus pantry staples like butter, seasonings, and flour.  Lo and behold, a plan for mac and cheese was born.

What I had on hand:

  • about 6 ounces applewood smoked cheddar, rubbed with paprika (from the fancy cheese section of Wegman's)
  • 8 ounces McAdam brand Adirondack cheddar
  • 14 ounces dog-paw shaped pasta from Pastabilities
  • a large white onion
  • a stick of butter
  • flour (I used about half a cup)
  • black pepper
  • mustard (spicy brown, a tablespoon)
  • about 3 cups milk
What I did:

First I boiled the pasta in salted water for the 6 minutes it says to on the package and drained.  Then came time for the cheese sauce.

I melted a stick of butter in the pasta pot, added the chopped onion, and cooked on low heat until the onion was translucent and sweet-tasting, but not brown.  Then I added the flour and stirred it around until it made an onion-y roux.  Once the roux reached a golden color, I stirred in the milk and brought this all to a nice simmer on medium heat and the roux turned into a thick delicious saucey looking thing.  Added the mustard, added the black pepper, and inhaled.  Something about black pepper makes me euphoric.

Anyway: then I busted out mom-in-law's salad shooter (the only way to grate cheese, for real) and grated the cheese into the pot, stirred it up until melted, and stirred in the pasta.

The next step is obvious: pour it into a casserole dish, top with panko bread crumbs, and bake for about 30 minutes (we were close to 45) at 350, until the crumbs are golden and the cheese is bubbly and delicious.

So how was it?  Smoky.  Paprika-y (remember the paprika on the cheese).  Cheesy.  Delicious.  Oh, it was a treat indeed.

And yes, I'm eating its leftovers for lunch today, with a side of Croghan Bologna (a Northern NY delicacy) and cheese curds.  Bring on the cholesterol!

No comments:

Post a Comment