Friday, September 3, 2010

mac and cheese - hangover style

P9020776I woke up today, just as I did yesterday, feeling uneasy and slightly delirious. Once again, I crawled downstairs rummaging through the kitchen for food to soak up my burning stomach. I guess this weekend could be considered my roommate's "birthday weekend" seeing as how her birthday was yesterday. Going along with that, I figured I'd cook food for the whole house to enjoy. In order for that, I'd have to create something not only meatless (she's a vegetarian because of the texture of meat, yes you heard me right) but should consist of something with pasta (which is 99.9% of her diet). Easy enough- mac and cheese it is.

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For every few chunks of cheese I chopped, I rewarded myself with a little nibble (or two, or three...).

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Le roux et le beschamel. (My attempt to speak French. Hey, I did take two years in high school!)

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The delicious smell of cheesy goodness wafted throughout the house, and soon I found my two hungry roommates by my side, birthday girl
M and newbie A.

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"Hey, whatcha making?" ... Obviously they knew it was mac and cheese, but I guess they just wanted to let me know they acknowledged that I was making it.

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We set out some plates and piled the cheesy tubed pasta atop. How does this compare to your boxed plastic rubbery crap, huh Kraft?

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Nice and warm, the yellow-tinted sauce smoothly coated each and every macaroni. The cheese wasn't overpowering, but retained that cheesiness I deem a necessity for awesome mac and cheese. Seeping through the center of the macaroni, the creamy sauce was dominant in every bite. Also, every so often you'd get a piece of crusty breadcrumb topping, which also lent the sauce those adorable little specks of flavor.

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After feeding myself, my two roommates, and all three of our boyfriends, you can guess how much mac and cheese was left... Yeah, basically nothing. I guess everyone enjoyed it.

---RECIPE---
Taken from Cook's Illustrated.

ingredients:
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1+1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) (omitted)
5 cups milk
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt

directions:
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

2. In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

3. Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

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