Sunday, May 15, 2011

Macaroni and Dubliner

Macaroni and cheese was never on my radar, since Mom only bought the bright orange Kraft version and I never associated it with food, only convenience. Then I discovered my niece liked it, almost considered it one of the five major food groups, so I had to at least try to make a "real" mac and cheese. Thanks, Brit, for visiting and giving me reason to try this recipe. We didn't do so bad on this first attempt.

1 lb. ditalini pasta
6T butter
1/4C white flour
1/4t salt
1C - 1 1/2C whole milk
10 oz Dubliner cheddar cheese
grated Parmigiano

To make the cheese sauce, start by melting the butter on low heat. Get your pasta water boiling now too. Our objective is to make a bechamel sauce as a base for the cheddar to melt in.

Next, add the flour and stir gently to cook the flour in the butter and get rid of a raw flour taste. A whisk is a good tool to use for this. Don't brown the flour, but let it get to a light tan color.

Once you get there, start adding the milk. Use enough to make a bechamel that is thin like a cream soup, not thick like pancake batter. Check the water and start cooking the pasta.

If you look at the sides of the pan in this photo, you'll see how thick it should be. Thick enough to coat the pan and not drip off. When you get to this point, start adding the cheddar.

With any luck you will have already grated your cheese. Or you may be fortunate to have an assistant helping you. That looks like 2 cups, but you need 3-4 cups for a strong cheese taste.

Add salt to taste to the cheese sauce, drain pasta, add it and stir to cover all the pasta with  sauce. Place in a baking dish, grate Parmigiano over the top and bake at 375 until it browns.

We decided to gild the lily and add cooked bacon for more crunch. If you look at the photo above, you'll see the bacon cooking on a sheet pan on the shelf beneath the mac and cheese.

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