Recipe 13: Bistro Mac and Cheese

Last night I made another new mac and cheese for dinner.  Just a few days after my previous one.  I normally like to space out my recipes more but when I realized that Recipe 13 would be the quarter-mark for this challenge, I got excited and decided I needed to take care of it as soon as possible.

So before we go on to the recipe, getting 1/4 through this challenge begs the question: How’s it going?  Well, I am fairly sure I haven’t gained any weight – but to be fair, I wasn’t exactly a junior-petite before the challenge started either.  I love trying new recipes, so this forces them into my weekly repertoire – though of course it’s a bummer when they turn out wrong, whether due to my own missteps or just a bad recipe (in my opinion, of course).  I still make a lot of mistakes and I’m not going to hide that or justify it either; I’ve made no secret that I’m a person with faults and not a professional chef, and I’d like to think that makes this blog a little bit more approachable to the Average Joe/Jane, who I’m guessing has more sense than to take on such a wacky endeavor as this.  Which raises another point:

I am so sick of mac and cheese.

Scandalous I know!  But really, think about it: All the best things about mac and cheese become wearisome when you are eating them over and over – the richness, the creaminess, the carb-overload.  Next time you think to yourself or gush to your friends, “I swear, I could eat *insert food item here* every day?”

No.  No, you can’t.  And really, you shouldn’t.

Fret not though, Weekly Mackers!  I am not going to be abandoning this mad task I’ve given myself.  It really is fun to see what tastes wonderful and what falls flat on its face.  And if you folks are so eager to read about mac and cheese recipes (maybe? anyone?), then I am happy to guinea-pig myself out for your culinary education.  See how much I care?  This is all for you.

Bistro Mac and Cheese (from Taste of Home)

Ingredients

  • 1 package (16 ounces) uncooked elbow macaroni (I used quinoa elbows)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour blend; I use Pamela’s)
  • 2-1/2 cups 2% milk (I used skim because that’s what we keep in the house)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese (I used a sharp white)
  • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened (they make 3 oz packages now!)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, melt butter (unless you are doing the crumb-topping indicated below, you can use a normal pot, not a Dutch oven).  Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk and seasonings. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Reduce heat; add cheeses and stir until melted. Stir in sour cream. Drain macaroni; stir into sauce.

This recipe can also be baked with a crumb topping. Place macaroni in a greased 3-qt. baking dish. Combine 1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter; sprinkle over macaroni. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.  A full recipe, according to the site, serves 8; I made a half-recipe.

I didn't do the crumb-topping. Yes, that's steam!

Verdict: 3.5/5

I hedged for a bit as to whether this should be a 3.5 or a 4.  I really loved the tang of the gorgonzola, which overwhelms the flavor of the mac, and the creaminess from the cream cheese.  Still, with the cream and the decadence it became slightly one note.  It really needed the crumb-topping to break up the taste, and when I warmed up the leftovers for lunch today (hey, I may be sick of mac but a girl’s gotta eat) I made a sort of microwave crumb-topping for my bowl, and it helped break up the monotony so much.  Loverman and I both thought that perhaps some chicken might have been a good option (yes, it’s his go-to suggestion, but in this case I think it’s a fair point), and I wonder if even some shrimp might be a good addition.  I would definitely make this again, and even without the suggested carnivorous additions it’s a great, easy meal to whip together on a weeknight – but make sure you do the crumb-topping.  Though I confess, I don’t really know what is particularly “bistro” about this recipe.

Do you know a recipe that you think would help bust up my mac and cheese funk?  Let me know!  Post on my Facebook wall or e-mail me at weeklymac*AT*yahoo*DOT*com!

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4 Comments on “Recipe 13: Bistro Mac and Cheese”

  1. I think this recipe is super – it would be great as small individual serves in ramekins with the crumb top and a great big salad with some bitter greens like rocket, and some raw onion, maybe some pear or apple and some crusty fresh bread. That way it would break up the extreme carby mac-iness of this meal. Tastebud Heaven.

    • Lex says:

      I love a good salad of greens, pear/apple, walnuts,. and blue cheese – with a little balsamic, it screams autumn to me – which is my favorite season.

      I love the idea of just making little servings in ramekins. I now have a few added to my serve-ware, and I do believe something as simple as that can really make a difference – especially if serving to company.

      Thanks for the idea! And it does raise a good point: Although I have been presenting these recipes primarily as mains, they would of course work as a decadent side dish to an otherwise healthy meal!


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