Give Me Some Comfort! (Food): Mac n Cheese

I sort of think comfort food is nice any time, but it's wonderful when you actually need it. You know, like when you're just feeling blue or when it's rainy outside or when you've just watched 24 friends and colleagues get fired (just to name something off the top of my head). Comfort food can help you get over it (like liquor! Just kidding. Sort of.).

My favorite comfort food, and the one I will be indulging in today (thanks, economy!) is the old standby, Mac n Cheese.

I like foods that are essentially vehicles for fatty and unhealthy things, and Mac n Cheese takes the cake (cheese cake?). All kinds of Mac n Cheese make me happy--it's pretty hard to go wrong with pasta + cheese--and, admittedly, I probably indulge about every week or so. I've even ordered it in restaurants (like Zoe's! A cute little diner. I never go there any more though, because for a while every time Dave and I went there we'd get into a fight and finally the mac n cheese just wasn't worth it). I'm impressed with people who make their own mac n cheese (Dave's mom's is sooo good), but I'm also pretty happy with the stuff straight from the box, which I often like to dress up with some feta cheese and fresh pepper.

I got this recipe from Nick, the sixteen-year-old food blogger, who got it from Alton Brown. Nick, of course, made it after his own disappointing day (midterms, ugh). I also saw a deep-fried version where you wrap chunks of mac n cheese in bacon and fry them, but I'm having a bad day, not a death wish.

12 oz English Cheddar
2 cups elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoons dry mustard
1 tablespoons paprika
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 bay leaf
3 cups whole milk
1 egg
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
additional 1/4 cup butter

preheat oven to 350
Cook macaroni in boiling salted water until al dente (about 6 minutes)
Cook 3 tbs butter over medium heat until bubbling subsides.
Whisk in 3 tbs flour and let cook for about 3 minutes to achieve a nice blond color.
Whisk in mustard powder, paprika, onions, bay leaf and 1 tsp salt.
Slowly whisk in the 3 cups of milk.
Continue whisking and bring liquid to a simmer to thicken, then remove from heat.
Beat an egg in a separate bowl.
Temper the egg by adding a few tbs of the sauce to the bowl with the egg while whisking quickly.
Whisking quickly, add the egg mixture back into the original sauce.
Whisk in about 3/4 of the cheese, then add the noodles.
Place the whole mixture in a round corning ware.
Melt the addition 1/4 cup butter then mix with the panko.
Add this panko mixture and the remaining cheese to the top
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Image by Meeeeee!

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