Sunday, October 4, 2009

More Mac & Cheese Please!

Who doesn't love mac & cheese? Yes, there is that stuff in the blue box that we grew up with, but then there is the gourmet, rich, insanely decadent stuff that dreams are made of. This is the ultimate comfort food folks...pasta, cheese all wrapped up into warm gooey goodness. I love the stuff. If I see it on a restaurant's menu I HAVE to order it - this obsession has sometimes steered me in the right direction (Rockit Bar & Grill has an awesome baked delight) but often it has not (Carnivale is a fabulous Jerry Kleiner restaurant, but sadly mac & cheese is not a Latin fave and has no business on their menu). If you through in some fancy cheeses (Emmentel swiss anyone?) and some over the top mix-ins (truffles or bacon usually makes everything better) then I'm sure to be a happy camper.
I have to say that I make pretty good mac and cheese. I crave it all summer, but really its the ideal food for fall and those cold winter nights. It fills the cockles of your soul with its gooey goodness and I love to share it with friends. If you haven't received an invitation to join me yet for dinner (and I deeply apologize for that) then you can use my recipe for yourself. Please note all ingredients listed are full fat. This is for optimal enjoyment. My friend Erin loves mac and cheese so I made a big batch for her (and baby Connor) recently.

Robyn's Gooey Mac & Cheese

Note: If you are watching your waist line, cholesterol or fat content then you can certainly opt for whole grain pasta and fat free cheeses and milk.

1 lb. pasta (I like to use fusilli)
1 lb. of shredded sharp white cheddar
2 cups of heavy cream
2 slices of whole wheat bread
1 tbsp. butter
1/8 tsp. Dried mustard (the spice - not the stuff in the jar)
Sliced mushrooms and Pancetta or ham (depending on your preference)
Preheat oven to 350

1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain.

2. If you're opting for the mix-ins (which I recommend) heat a pan with the butter and add chopped ham and mushrooms. Sautee until mushrooms are cooked and ham has caramelized a bit.

3. Meanwhile toast your bread. Pulse the toast in a food processor so that chunks of the bread still remain.

4. Toss drained pasta in a large bowl (you'll need a HUGE one) with heavy cream, dried mustard, salt and pepper (to taste) and the shredded cheese. If the pasta is still warm it should melt the cheese. You may need to put the gooey pasta back into the pot and melt the cheesy mixture a bit more. Add in the mushroom/ham mixture now too.

5. Pasta/Cheese mix should be transferred to an ovenproof container. Spread breadcrumbs evenly on top. Bake for 10 minutes until crust forms on top.

ENJOY. The great thing about this dish is that it reheats easily and you CAN make this as healthy (or not) as you wish. Mmm, mmm good.