Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mac N' Cheese

The wind has been wild here the last few days, and between midterm stress and being grumpy about the weather, I found myself craving a huge bowl of creamy mac n' cheese. Really, what better way to spend a chilly night inside than with hot, homemade, gooey mac n' cheese? And lucky me, we had company over for dinner last night. The danger with mac n' cheese is if no one is around to help me eat it, I will eat the whole thing. So I was thrilled to cook for five instead of one (ok, maybe two, if I decided to let Travis have any!).

I have four or five recipes bookmarked, and I want to try all of them, but I decided to stick with a true classic, and went with this recipe. No frilly fanciness, no 'adult' ingredients, just lots and lots of cheese. Perfect! I changed a few things, including doubling the recipe, which I would highly recommend! Between the five of us, plus a bowlful I set aside for our absent roommate, there weren't any leftovers! Guess next time I'll have to triple it, so I can have some more the next day! Mmm.

This recipe is very dish-intensive, but is totally worth it! I was fortunate enough to have a few kitchen helpers, which made a huge difference! With all the time-consuming steps to making this dish, having someone to whisk the milk mixture and/or cook the pasta is extremely helpful. If you're cooking solo, however, don't stress! This is a very manageable one-person dish; it'll just take a little longer. But again--it's totally worth it!

Mac N' Cheese

1lb smooth rigatoni noodles
16oz grated sharp cheddar
8oz grated monterey jack cheese
1/2c shredded parmesan
1/4c blue cheese crumbles
5 cups milk
6 tbsp plus 1 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 a large white onion, diced
2tbsp minced garlic
1tbsp dijon mustard
6 tbsp all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 9x12 casserole dish and set it aside.

Combine all the cheeses except the parmesan in a large bowl. Measure out a cup of the cheese blend and set it aside with the parmesan. You'll use this to top the mac n' cheese later.

In a small saucepan, melt the 1 tbsp of butter over medium-low until melted. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Remove the onion mixture from the saucepan, setting it aside in a small bowl. In a medium saucepan warm the milk. In another, larger saucepan melt the 6 tbsps of butter over medium-low heat. Immediately add the flour and whisk vigorously for about a minute. Slowly whisk in the milk. Turn the heat up to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil to thicken the sauce. Whisk the entire time. Once the mixture has thickened, remove from heat and add the onion mixture, spices, mustard and onion mixture. Then, stirring slowly, add the large bowl of your cheese blend. Stir until all the cheese is just melted.

Fill a large saucepan about 2/3 full with water. Bring to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook for about ten minutes, or until the pasta is cooked. Drain, and add the pasta to the cheese mixture. Stir gently to combine thoroughly. Pour the mac n' cheese into the casserole dish, making sure it's evenly distributed. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese over the mac n' cheese. Then sprinkle the parmesan over the shredded cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the inside is still creamy.


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