Recipe 26: Macaroni and Cheese with Parmesan CrustPosted: June 22, 2012
WHOA! WE’RE HALFWAY THE-ERE!
Yes, I needed a Bon Jovi moment. You’ve been there, right?
So holy crap, people: This is the halfway mark for this crazy, crazy challenge. How the heck did half the year go by so quickly? Are we really getting towards the end of June? Oh man, now I sound like an old person. I’m old!
All right, let’s put the theatrics aside and get back to mac. I think I’ve had a pretty fair variety, but there’s always more that can be done. I hope for this second half coming up I can offer you guys more diversity of flavors. One thing that will help with that – I’ve finally been hired! I don’t start until mid-July, but having a paycheck bigger than unemployment-insurance will certainly help in the grocery bills and in picking up some of the more unusual ingredients. I don’t even know how many macs I have bookmarked to try (I’ve made a whole folder in my browser labeled “Mac and Cheese Recipes”) but I do know that there’s a whole lot more than fifty-two. If I manage to hit the fifty-two mark before the year if over (and honestly, I have no idea if even the fifty-two is plausible or not, but here’s hoping), I’ll see how many I can squeeze in. Even after 2012 is over I’ll probably still update occasionally with new recipes, though with nowhere near as frequently.
But I’m jumping way ahead of myself, aren’t I? Let’s just enjoy the present as it is, shall we?
I had intended to try something somewhat fancy-dancy for the halfway mark. Then I forgot about that when I went grocery shopping and didn’t get anything particularly special. So instead I’ll be channeling the spirit of the first mac I tried and go with something pretty simple that can be whipped together with relative ease from ingredients you probably have laying around anyway. Added bonus: The source for this recipe indicates that recipe costs about $16 to feed 4 – 6 people. Not too shabby!
Macaroni and Cheese with Parmesan Crust (from BrokeAss Gourmet)
- 1 lb Dreamfields macaroni elbows (or regular macaroni elbows) – or gluten-free option; I used gluten-free elbows
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp flour – or gluten-free option
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup milk
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp powdered mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a large rectangular casserole pan or 4-6 individual oven-proof dishes (such as small souffle dishes). – I used the casserole dish so I’d have fewer things to wash. Yeah.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to directions. Drain, return to pot and set aside.
In a medium pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in flour until a sticky dough forms. Cook dough, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
Slowly pour in milk until a thick white sauce forms, continuing to whisk. Whisk in nutmeg and mustard powder. Gradually add cheese, and whisk until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, continuing to whisk. – It is very gluey here.
Use a spatula to scrape all of the sauce into the cooked pasta and stir gently until all pasta is coated. Transfer pasta-cheese mixture into the prepared pan(s) and top with shredded Parmesan. – I used more Parmesan than called for because what was called for didn’t cover the top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese on top bubbles and is lightly-browned in spots. Serve hot. – But not too hot. Be safe, folks.
This might seem a bit high, and I think Loverman would disagree with me. The reason I rate it so high? It would make an awesome base for just about any add-in. I think it would be great with chicken or even shrimp, adding Mediterranean spices… Maybe some ground turkey? Chorizo? Loverman said he thought it would work well with hotdogs, ketchup, and hot sauce (the lattermost of which he did add). And that Parmesan crust! This is a great substitute for the traditional bread crumb topping. It’s got the mild saltiness of Parmesan with a wonderful chewy toothsome quality. After all, what makes cheese even better? More cheese.
What improvements do you think could be made for the second half of this challenge? I’m open to suggestions! Here’s one: Maybe you could tell some folks about Weekly Mac to spread the cheesy word! Y’know, just putting it out there.