Friday, August 6, 2010

Ina’s Mac & Cheese

* Photo courtesy of It's All About The Bacon

Another Ina Garten winner! This was the BEST macaroni and cheese ever. I loved it. It is gooey, delicious, and what mac and cheese should taste like… and in true Ina style, it isn’t difficult or time consuming to make either. This macaroni and cheese dish is a little different in that it uses Gruyere and extra-sharp cheddar cheeses- it results in an incredible combination of flavors but can be a little more expensive than your usual mac & cheese. The dish is topped with crunchy Panko breadcrumbs and sliced fresh tomatoes. Ina recommends using a cavatappi pasta, and I agree with this- it holds onto the cheese sauce much better than elbow macaroni. It is a beautiful presentation. A fantastic break from your regular mac & cheese- Ina took a basic comfort food and made it elegant and unique with its ingredients list. Edited to add: This is best eaten day-of. The pasta continues to absorb the cheese sauce, so it may not be as cheesy the following day. This also makes a lot of food. We halved the recipe, but the original full-size recipe is shown below.

Ina’s Mac and Cheese
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
1 pound cavatappi or elbow macaroni
1 quart milk (4 cups)
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 oz Gruyere, grated (3 cups)
8 oz extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1-1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs or fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crust removed)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling water. Add 1 Tbsp kosher salt and pasta. Undercook the pasta about 2 minutes- this will ensure the pasta doesn’t get too mushy while it’s baking in the oven. Drain well.
3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it.
4. In a separate large pot, melt 6 Tbsp of butter, and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk.
5. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.
6. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 Tbsp salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
7. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
8. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top.
9. Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, combine them with the fresh breadcrumbs, and sprinkle on the top.
10. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Source: Adapted from Ina Garten


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