I’ve been talking a lot of smack recently about mac and cheese. A classic American favorite, it’s become very posh to feature this delightful dieter’s nightmare on menus everywhere. Usually there’s some sort of clever spin on it…like Cafe Chloe’s version with pancetta, gorgonzola, fontina, and gruyere or Urban Solace’s with duck confit. I still think they made a mistake by not calling this “quack and cheese”. With the exception of Cafe Chloe, most places seem to be doing it just to do it. I’m a firm believer in if you are going to put a kicked up version of any classic on your menu, it better blow the 99 cent version out of the water. So when I was going to a bbq yesterday, I decided to put my money where my (huge) mouth is, and make my own. Make that $21 to be exact.

With so many artisan cheeses readily available at places like whole foods and even costco (maybe not sooo artisan from Costco, but they do carry some decent cheeses), there’s really no excuse for using a flat, lifeless cheese. I used a combo of a raw cow’s milk gruyere ($12.99/#), 5 year aged Quebec Vintage Cheddar ($11.99/#) from whole foods, and some Parmesan-Reggianno I already had at home. Costco carries a pretty decent aged Cabot Vermont white cheddar for something like $5.99/#, which would work just fine too. Really you can use whatever cheeses you want, just remember the better the cheese the better the mac!

I reccomend putting on some dance tunes while cooking, because trust me, after you eat this you’ll be wishing you’d been doing squats while making it.If you’re stove is as ancient as mine, and the pilot has to be lit prior to every use, and you have to cross your fingers in hopes that it will actually make a full ring of fire on the burner as opposed to a few flames here and there, the sauce can take a while to make. Be patient…perfection takes time. Also, the pasta will naturally absorb the sauce as it cools, so slightly undercook your pasta, and make sure you eat this while it’s still hot from the oven.

Here it goes:

Mac and Cheese

  • 1# macaroni, undercooked, and cooled
  • sauce:
  • 2 oz (4 tbsp) butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2# shredded cheese
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • big pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • for topping mix together:
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, preferably panko
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • 2 oz melted butter

Cook pasta, cool, set aside. Melt butter in large pot, add onions and garlic and cook til aromatic. Add flour and cook about a minute. Slowly whisk in milk, making sure to tackle any flour lumps. Bring to a boil, and simmer stiring occassionaly until the sauce thickly coats the back of a spoon. On my pathetic excuse for a stove, this took about a 1/2 hour. Take sauce off of heat, whisk in cheese, add mustard and lemon juice, and adjust seasoning with cayenne, salt, and pepper. Strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve over the pasta and toss to coat. Put this into a 9 x 13 pyrex dish and top with bread crumb mix. Bake at 400 until top is brown and crispy, about 25 minutes. Eat immediatley and watch the boys (or girls) swoon.

48 Responses to “If the way to one’s heart is through their stomach, let this be your bait.”

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