Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Ultimate Mac ‘n’ Cheese

The Ultimate Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Serves: 6 to 8 main-dish servings or 10 to 12 side-dish servings
Courtesy of Good Housekeeping.....

• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 cups whole milk
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled, left whole
• 8 ounces Velveeta, cut into small cubes
• 8 ounces extra sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (do NOT use pre-shredded)
• 4 ounces gouda, fontina, or gruyère, coarsely grated
• 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
• 1 pound elbow macaroni
• 4 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced (optional)

• 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
• 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Heat medium covered saucepot of salted water to boiling on high. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a large saucepot, melt butter on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle in flour. Cook 1 minute or until well combined, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low.
3. While whisking, slowly drizzle milk into pot (really, really slowly, it should take about 3 minutes to pour in all the milk). At first, the mixture will be really pasty and hard to whisk, but power through. Stop pouring occasionally to whisk away all lumps and whisk around edges. This is the key to a smooth base for your cheese sauce. Add garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
4. Heat sauce to simmering on medium heat, whisking frequently and scraping bottom and edges of pot, making sure sauce isn’t sticking. Let simmer 1 minute or until thickened, whisking constantly.
5. By the handful, add cheeses to sauce, stirring and waiting until cheese melts before adding next handful. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, if desired. The sauce should be a smidgen saltier than you think it should be because when you eat it with the bland macaroni, the flavor will balance out. Remove and discard garlic cloves.
6. Add macaroni to boiling water. Cook for half the time the label directs; drain well and stir into cheese sauce. Transfer to 3-quart baking dish. Top with tomato slices, if using.
7. In med. bowl, stir together ingredients for Topping. Sprinkle over tomatoes. Bake macaroni and cheese 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and crumbs are golden brown. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

Now this is my version of the ultimate mac and cheese, but if "ultimate" to you means stovetop only, follow this same recipe, just decrease the milk by 3/4 of a cup, cook the macaroni until it’s al dente, and omit the topping.

REMEMBER!! WATCH YOUR PORTIONS! I have found that many do best when they control their portions rather than deny themselves food!

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