Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Creamy Mac 'n Cheese

Where do I even begin? Um, this is amazing. So amazing I seriously considered calling this post "Aaaaaamazing Mac 'n Cheese." I really did. Obviously I didn't end up with that title, but it would so be fitting.

John has always enjoyed the homemade mac n cheeses I've made (Easy Beer Mac 'n Cheese, Baked Mac 'n Four Cheeses, Gnocchi Mac 'n Cheese), but he's still liked his Velveeta shells better. Well, I saw this recipe from Jessica, and I decided to try again to win him over. I changed a few things she did, mainly the ending. Instead of baking this, I left it all creamy and served it immediately. The result? A HUGE hit!! John went on and on about this, and I finally beat Velveeta. Woo!

I also found this to be fantastic. It was so, so tasty and a perfect weeknight meal. We each enjoyed a small bowl with a side of roasted green beans. And when John asked for this again two days later (after polishing original leftovers off for lunch the day before) I happily obliged, this time pairing it with individual mini meat loaves (recipe to come).

The ingredient list looks long, but only because there are four cheeses - and that is one of the reasons this is so darn delicious! I promise it's not as intimidating as it may appear. Same goes for the preparation instructions. Instead of paragraphs with several directions to go back to, I broke it down step-by-step.

I promise you will adore this! Make it, I beg you!

Creamy Mac 'n Cheese
Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is
Serves 4-6  

*1/2-2/3 box whole wheat elbow noodles (you can use the whole box but it won't be as creamy)
*1 shallot, sliced finely (you can skip this and it turns out great, I did it both ways)
*2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
*1/2 teaspoon olive oil
*5 tablespoons unsalted butter
*1/4 cup flour
*2 cups milk (I used skim)
*1/3 cup mascarpone cheese (basically Italian cream cheese)
*8 ounces freshly grated gruyere cheese (about one cup)
*8 ounces freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese (about one cup)
*8 ounces freshly grated fontina cheese (about one cup)
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon pepper
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

*Grate cheeses, placing them together in a large bowl. Boil water and prepare pasta according to directions.

*Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in olive oil and butter, then throw in shallots with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat and cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft.

*Add in garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

*Add flour to the skillet then whisk constantly to create a roux (a thick paste, if you will). Let cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

*Pour in milk, stirring continuously for another 1-2 minutes.

*Add in mascarpone and the grated cheeses. Stir continuously until mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes.

*Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then tasted and season more if desired. Add pasta to the skillet and toss thoroughly to coat. Serve immediately.

Note: upon reheating the pasta may appear slightly oily. This is a result of the marscapone cheese. 

All the stages of cooking the mac n cheese
butter and oil | shallots and garlic | flour | milk | cheeses | pasta

All done! Look how creamy it looks...oh my. You won't go back to Velveeta!

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