Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Martha's mac and cheese

The other day I recieved an adverducement to subscribe to Martha Stewart Living. It came in the form of a mini-magazine which included "our most requested recipe!" macaroni and cheese. I was intrigued. Really? Your most requested? I pictured Lois finishing off her second helping of Maude's caserrole and saying "that was just sensational! Please, I must have the recipe." And Maude says, "Oh, that's from Martha. But I can't remember which issue..."

I added a chopped fennel bulb to mine. Other good additions would be sausage, ham, apple, almonds -- I'm sure you could make a hundred different variations. Some of the directions sound more important than they are, like the white bread for the breadcrumb topping. I used white and whole wheat sourdough, which not only tastes great but also looks more interesting than an all-white would. You also do not have to stir the sauce the entire time. Just stir when you can to make sure the sauce stays smooth and doesn't stick to the bottom of your pan.

I love the way Martha always says things like "use the finest vanilla you can" and "use the best baking chocolate you have." She's always encouraging us to try our hardest. I think this gets misinterpreted as an imperative for perfection. No, you're not going to make something as flawless as the magazine does. But they have an entire staff and you just have your two hands. Do your best and you can be proud of whatever results you get. Martha is on your side. Really!

Ok, and yes, she also wants your money.

Anyway, here is an abridged version of the recipe. Thanks for the kind comments on my food photography. I'm really just aspiring to she who eats. Not only does she have exquisite photography, she has great ideas, an inspiring sensibility, and I love reading about someone who lives way over on the other side of the world. Plus, that's my favorite food blog name ever.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, pluse more for casserole
6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teastpoon freshy ground black pepper [I used white pepper]
1/4 teaspoon cayenn pepper [I forgot to add this]
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni [I used whole wheat]

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish, set aside. Pour 2 tablespoons of melted butter over your breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Melt remaining butter in saucepan until it bubbles. Add flour and cook for one minute. Whisk in milk slowly [they want you to heat the milk first, but you don't really have to]. Cook mixture until it thickens, about 8-12 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and add salt, nutmeg, peppers, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano). Set cheese sauce aside.

In a separate pot cook macaroni for 2-3 minutes until soft on the inside but underdone on the inside. Strain and rinse with cold water. Stir into the cheese sauce.

Pour mixture into your dish [I used two dishes]. Sprinkle remaining cheeses and bread crumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Let rest five minutes before serving. Serves 12 -- seriously, this makes a ton of food. I think I may freeze the second dish. They also recommend using a broad, shallow dish if you want more crust.

1 comment:

shaunamama said...

Woah! I MUST try this one!! This sounds too good to pass up!