Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mac & Cheese Dinner

Had some friends over for a very simple dinner. This recipe for Mac & Cheese will easily feed 10-12 people. Served my favorite sparkling wine, Freixenet Cava Cordon Negro (brut), to go with our meal...

Green Salad

Macaroni and Cheese
(adapted from Gourmet magazine, Dec. 1999)

Chocolate Pavlova with Strawberries


For bread crumbs:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs or Japanese panko breadcrumbs

For bechamel:

1 teaspoon powdered chipotle chili (or to taste)

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 lb macaroni

2 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably white), grated

Make bread crumbs:

Heat butter and oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook garlic and bread crumbs, stirring, until crumbs are golden. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt.

Make macaroni:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt butter in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over moderate heat, then add flour and cook, whisking, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, cream, chipotle chili and mustard and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Strain to remove any lumps. Add sauce to large bowl of cheese and stir until cheese has completely melted.

Cook macaroni in a 6- to 7-quart pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 11 minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in white sauce, cheese, and salt to taste.

Fill a large shallow casserole with half of macaroni mixture. Pour half of cheese bechamel on top of first layer. Repeat with another layer of macaroni and cheese bachamel. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs. Bake casseroles in middle of oven 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Cook's note:

Macaroni and cheese may be made 2 days ahead, put into casserole, cooled completely, and chilled, covered. Do not add bread crumbs until ready to bake. (Baking may take longer than 30 minutes.)