Sunday, September 21, 2014
Sunday Dinner Worthy Blanco Mac N' Cheese
This post is long overdue! I really wanted to post it sooner. I had a birthday this past week on the 15th! The whole day I just couldn't stop thinking over and over..."So this is 30!?". It's a mixed bag that I won't get into this post. Our weekdays are so busy I knew that I wouldn't be able to celebrate until the weekend. I was hoping to hit the beach and dine out at a really good restaurant. I also found a nice piece of furniture that I really wanted. We found it at a local consignment shop in New Tampa that has become a favorite of ours. We're still furnishing our place.
Anyways, I made a white macaroni and cheese to go with the porkchops (it's pictured as the side in the last post); which was also once again me stepping outside of the norm and our typical box. I usually make a cheddar based macaroni and cheese with colby jack. Sometimes I make it even better with bacon on top. Usually that topping makes its appearance around the holidays, afterall everything in moderation. Ever since I saw the Neely's make their macaroni with a homemade cheese sauce it changed my life! One of my issues with a baked macaroni was getting a good coating of all the macaroni. With a cheese sauce, it helps rid your macaroni and cheese of bland uncoated macaroni and the dry crunchy ones too. Another plus to using a cheese sauce is contrary to what some may believe it doesn't result in a liquidy mac and cheese like the stove top boxed stuff. Once everything sets together the results will be a fluffy and moist macaroni and cheese with creamy goodness. I have to warn that the 4 cheese Italian blend has an aroma that can be a bit strong for some.
1 1/2 - 2 cups 4 cheese Italian blend
1 cup of shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese
1 Quart of milk
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tblspn of flour
1 tsp of kosher salt
1 tsp of pepper (ground black)
1 large box of elbow macaroni (capitavi style work best because of the tiny grooves)
One of the keys to a good macaroni and cheese is not over cooking your pasta! Over cooking your pasta can ruin any macaroni and cheese. The reason being because it can ruin the texture and turn your noodles to mush, bits, and corners. You want to boil your macaronis until they are soft but not mushy, some call this aldente. If you slice a piece of pasta you can see just where the the texture and coloration begin to change. There should not be a crunch to your pasta but a bit of firmness at the center that you can see when the pasta is sliced. Boiling your pasta for no more than 3 minutes should achieve this texture.
Another key to achieving good texture is to run cold water over your pasta as you strain it, in addition you want to make sure there is no water left where the pasta is sitting on reserve. I usually spread the pasta out into a casserole dish at this point. The cheese sauce is rather easy. In a large saucepan you want to melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat until it sizzles. Then you want to add your tablespoon of flour. You want to whisk together to make a rue, the flour will be moist, clumpy and blonde in color when ready for the next step. Next, add in a half quart of milk. You want to whisk the clumps together to evenly distribute with the milk. Make sure that your temperature is not too hot or your milk will curdle ruining the sauce (meaning it will get grainy and your cheese will be gum and not sauce). After, you want to slowly add in your cheese blend and whisk briskly. You want to toggle your milk and cheese to get the right consistency. The consistency should be like a thick queso (basically like a nacho cheese sauce, when a utensil is placed in the sauce and taken out you should notice a bit of stretch), you may want to add your salt and pepper to the sauce and use an icing spatula at this point forward.
Next you want to remove the sauce from the heat as soon as the desired consistency is achieved to avoid grainy milk curdles and cheese gum! Slowly pour the sauce over your pasta and stir in. Add half of the shredded mozzarella cheese in. Add some shreds to the top of your macaroni. You can also top with the Italian breadcrumbs. Once finished bake your macaroni and cheese at 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes. After the dish is baked allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes to set. If you don't allow the dish to set then there will be cheese and macaroni sliding everywhere lol. Allowing the dish to set will make it easier to serve in squares. Enjoy!