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.

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

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

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.

"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.

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

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.

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.

Taken from Cook's Illustrated.

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

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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