Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Easy Peasy Cheesy

You know how sometimes homemade mac n cheese lacks that creaminess that say, boxed mac n cheese has? Or it just gets funky and oily/break apart-y? I've always been a little annoyed with that. Texture is a big thing for me. After my beautiful béchamel last weekend, I was determined to master some mac n cheese.

I've only made homemade mac n cheese once before (thanks, Martha), but it just wasn't the creamy mac I was craving. I decided to make a basic cheese sauce and blend that with the concepts I got from Martha's recipe. I had my fingers AND toes crossed since I only had enough ingredients to cover one attempt. Yeeh.

Y'all know I'm really into variety so instead of making one big 13x9 tray of one flavor, I decided to make two 8x8 squares - one plain and one random flavor. What was that random flavor? Chipotle Mac. Yep. I thought the smokey, oniony flavor of the adobo sauce chipotles swim in would be a great addition to mac n cheese!

I snagged these cheeses at the Giant yesterday:
Normally I'd be a little snobbier about my cheese selections (Boar's Head deli meat is legit; cheese wedges a little questionable), but considering all the Metro and grocery store chaos these past few days, I'm going to take what I can get.

I also grabbed some 2% and whole milk
I really don't like whole milk (I think it's waaaay too rich), but for melting purposes fat free doesn't fly…it's full fat or nothing at all. Plus, this is my welcome back to running/getting some speed dish :)

I used the medium shred side of my box grater for all the cheeses and I ended up with a bunch extra - just something to keep in mind.

Check out the experiments!

Cheesy Mac
5 c medium pasta shells, cooked
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
1 1/4 c whole milk
1 1/4 c 2% milk
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c gruyere, shredded
1 c white cheddar, shredded
1 c extra sharp cheddar, shredded
3 tbsp panko

Combine milk, mustard, pepper, nutmeg and salt in a small saucepan and keep warm over medium low heat.

Heat butter in a pot over medium low heat. Slowly whisk in flour. Once flour is incorporated, slowly pour in warm milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses.

Coat pasta with sauce and pour into an 8x8 baking dish. Sprinkle with panko, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 375. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until top starts to brown.

Chipotle Mac
5 c medium pasta shells, cooked
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
1 1/4 c whole milk
1 1/4 c 2% milk
3 tbsp adobo sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 c gruyere, shredded
1 c white cheddar, shredded
1 c extra sharp cheddar, shredded
3 tbsp panko

Combine milk, adobo sauce and bay leaf in a small saucepan and keep warm over medium low heat.

Heat butter in a pot over medium low heat. Slowly whisk in flour. Once flour is incorporated, slowly pour in warm milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses.

Coat pasta with sauce and pour into an 8x8 baking dish. Sprinkle with panko, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 375. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until top starts to brown.

I seriously IM'd every mac n cheese lover/food nerd/cheese lover I knew after I took the first bite. PERFECT TEXTURE! Win!! The chipotle mac was PHENOMENAL. It was definitely my favorite of the two. I was a little concerned because the sauce was a little thicker than the regular mac when I stirred it up. In the end, it ended up being the better textured dish. Maybe it was the extra oil in the adobo sauce? I don't know, but it was freaking amazing.

The adobo sauce gave just the right amount of smokey flavor and gave just the slightest kick in the back of my throat with each bite. Absolutely perfect in my book.
To add some color and because I thought a vegetable of some sort was necessary today, I mixed in some peas. I like peas with my mac. I also like my mac doused in hot sauce...but not my chipotle mac :) How do you mac?

One bad thing about this delicious experience - no one to share it with :( I'm definitely freezing a serving of each for Jamie (FYI, my freezer is now overflowing with samples for him to try), but um, there's a lot left:
That's just the chipotle mac...double that and that's what I've got sitting in my kitchen. I'm definitely my mother's daughter...always cooking for a non-existent army!

6 comments:

Kelly said...

Wow that looks delicious. If only I could eat cheese haha. I love the addition of peas too!

Travel Eat Love said...

Yum! What a fun way to spend a day. Our faux storm was a big disappointment! I long to be snowed in!

Janice said...

These look great. Homemade always beats the blue box. I've recently made mac n cheese and used Ina Garten's recipe. She used Rutherford blue cheese which made the entire thing extra creamy.

Eliza said...

So when ya inviting us over for dinner? hehe

Looks de-lish!

LOL! I cook for the non-existent army too, I think it's ingrained in our genetics :)

Jamie said...

nice pictures of the milk, lol.

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