I am a convert! I finally see the light! Macaroni and cheese has never been a dish that has really appealed to me. Too heavy, too stodgy, too fattening, just too too too.... Friends, especially those that had lived in the US, were taken with it, but not me. I always considered it an American classic, in the way that classics from other countries will sometimes never make sense to you. (I understand these cultural divides, after all I am a girl that loves Vegemite, a classic that doesn't travel if ever there was one). I am also deeply suspicious of boxed pre-made pasta and sauce combos, and that was mostly where I saw mac 'n' cheese.
However, in the spirit of Barefoot Blogging, I was going to give it my best shot. My only compromise - I halved the ingredients. With the inclusion of blue cheese, the kids were never going to eat it, so I thought making it for one would probably be loads for my husband and I. I also added a little cayenne pepper to the flour, and the cheddar I chose was studded with red chilli, for a little bit of extra heat in the dish. The recipe was pretty simple, and I would absolutely make it again. My only (very small) quibble was the washing up. This recipe involved a remarkably large number of my pots and pans. At last count, 1 oven tray; 1 large pasta pot; 1 small saucepan; 1 medium saucepan; 1 whisk; 1 grater; 1 chopping board; 1 food processor; 1 gratin dish. All worth it.
This week's Barefoot Bloggers challenge was brilliantly chosen by Heather of Randomosity and The Girl. Thanks Heather - you have opened up a whole new dish for me. You can see what the other Barefoot Bloggers have been up to here.
Grown Up Mac and Cheese
adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Home Comforts Episode
1 cup elbow macaroni
3/4 cup milk
1 tbl unsalted butter
2 tbls flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
60g Gruyere cheese, grated
45g extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (I used one with red chilli in it)
30g Gorgonzola, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
1 slice white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1 tbl freshly chopped basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
Add the macaroni to a pot of boiling salted water and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into a gratin dishes.
Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.