Macaroni and Cheese: Martha Stewart Style

Cooking. It’s a talent I thought would naturally develop once I got married.
And you know? I was right! Once I said “I do” my wifely instincts kicked in, and suddenly you could have mistaken my cooking for that of Martha Stewart’s.
I kid.
I was the baffled newlywed wandering around in the produce department trying to find bay leaves, an ingredient called for in a recipe I had endeavored to cook. I couldn’t picture it though. So I finally gave up my pride and asked an elderly gentleman, who I noticed was quite skillfully selecting fresh ingredients, what in the world bay leaves were and where I could find them. Ha!
{sigh}, if only I had paid more attention when my mom tried to teach me a few things in the kitchen.
Lucky for me, there are didactic cookbooks written especially for those who don’t have a clue.
I highly recommend this one that I have been working through:
The book is set up so that you read about basic skills and learn valuable information that is then applied to various recipes that you can use to practice. I feel like I’ve learned a great deal.
I’ll be sharing a few of the recipes I’ve tried with you.
Today: Mac n’ Cheese
Her Mac n’ Cheese recipe is no where near related to the Kraft version that goes by the same name.
You’ll want to try this one. This Mac n’ Cheese recipe has quickly claimed a spot on my husband’s “please make this on a regular basis” list.
Macaroni and Cheese
{serves 8}
[pasta]
_________________________
coarse salt
8 ounces dried elbow macaroni
 
[bread crumbs] 
_________________________
6 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed 
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted 
 
[sauce and cheese topping]
_________________________
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for baking dishes 
1/4 C finely diced yellow onion
1/4 C all-purpose flour
3 C whole milk
2 oz. Italian Fontina cheese, grated {1/2 C} 
3 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated {1 C}, 1/3 C reserved for topping 
6 oz. extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated {1 C}, 1/2 C reserved for topping 
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated {1 C}, 1/2 C reserved for topping 
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
[topping] 
_________________________
slow-roasted tomato slices
thyme sprigs
Heat oven and boil pasta Heat oven to 375. Bring a large pot of water to boil, then add salt generously and cook pasta 2 to 3 min less than manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.
Meanwhile, make bread crumbs Tear bread into large pieces and pulse a few times in a food processor to form large crumbs. Transfer to a bowl, and add melted butter. Toss to evenly coat.
Prepare baking dishes Butter eight 6 oz. shallow dishes or a 1 1/2 qt. baking dish.
Make cheese sauce Melt butter in a 4-qt. pot over medium heat, then sweat onion until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until bubbling but not browning, about 45 seconds. Add milk and whisk to combine. bring to a simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon {scrape across the bottom and around edge of pot to prevent scorching}, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Add fontina, 2/3 C grated Gruyere, 1 2/3 C grated Cheddar, and 1/2 C Parmigiano-Reggiano, stirring until completely melted and sauce is smooth. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg, and stir to combine.
Assemble and add cheese topping Add pasta to sauce and stir to thoroughly combine. Pour into prepared baking dishes and sprinkle evenly with the reserved cheeses, followed by the bread cumbs. If using, top with roasted tomato slices and thyme.
Bake Place dishes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until bubbling and cheese is golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
{the interior design of nutmeg is so intricate}
Slow Roasted Tomatoes 
 
Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick rounds {about 24 total} and arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil and season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Sprinkle with 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves. Roast at 400 until softened and browned in spots, about 20 minutes. Let cool before storing.
{Note: I used whole wheat shell pasta and loved it. Also, I didn’t use fresh bread crumbs. Just the store bought kind. Worked just fine. And there was no fresh thyme on our tomatoes. Just dried. I would have used dried nutmeg as well, but a friend had given me some. So I happily used it here.}
Let me know if you try it!
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