Sunday, August 30, 2009

This Is Not Your Childhood Mac & Cheese

I love the NPR show "The Splendid Table" with Lynn Rossetto Casper and listen to her live and on podcasts. Well, one episode someone called in about making fried chicken and then they added that they were going to serve it with macaroni and cheese. Lynn immediately told them about this recipe. I was practically drooling in the car!

Today is a little chilly and I thought what's better to have on a chilly Sunday after noon? Mac and cheese! This is a very easy recipe and very adult with three types of cheeses (cheddar, Gruyere and cream cheese) and garlic and onions.

21st Century Mac & Cheese

Serves 4 and doubles easily.

1/2 pound (2 cups ) raw penne pasta, slightly under cooked and drained (I used curly tube pasta)

1 large egg

1 cup milk

1 small clove garlic

3/4 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 generous cup (5 ounces) shredded good quality, extra-sharp cheddar cheese

5 ounces cream cheese, crumbled

2/3 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese

Generous 1/8 teaspoon each hot red pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper

Generous 1/4 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 saltines, coarsely crumbled (I used whole wheat crackers that I happen to have in my pantry)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish, and add cooked macaroni.

In a blender or food processor combine egg, milk, and garlic, and process 3 seconds. Add onion, cheeses, peppers, salt, and paprika, and blend 10 seconds. Turn into dish, folding into macaroni. Casserole could be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point.

To bake, bring casserole close to room temperature. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Coat crackers with butter and spread over top of casserole.

Bake about 20 to 30 minutes, or until thick yet creamy. If top is not golden, slip under broiler for a minute. Remove from oven, let stand about 5 minutes, and serve.

Wow, this was satisfying and very rich. This definately beats anything that comes out of a box and would be a very good side for any occasion!

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