So, I made the Macaroni and cheese I told you about but ended up using a slightly different recipe and altered the original just a bit because my girls do NOT like tomatoes. It was SO delicious! (and I'm not even a huge Mac N Cheese fan). The girls said it was the best they'd ever eaten! I served it with a rotisserie chicken and salad for a quick, delicious, gourmet meal.
The recipe is from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) of whom I'm a huge fan. You can find the full recipe on Food Network.com but here is what I did:
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk (I used part skim, part half and half because it's what I had!)
8 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 c all purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
Preheat oven to 375
Cook macaroni according to package in salted, oiled water
Meanwhile, heat milk in small sauce pan. DON'T BOIL it!
In a large pan, heat 6 tablespoons of the butter 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 two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and combine it with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.
A FEW NOTES!
Okay, I am ALL about saving time and money but there are few things about this recipe that you need to know...First, Gruyere IS expensive but it is SO worth it in this. Also, I used a really sharp white cheddar, also a little more expensive, but you can taste AND appreciate the difference for something a little extra special.
Secondly, I mixed some freshly grated parmesan with my bread crumbs for an extra yummy topping.
NEXT, Don't be afraid of the nutmeg! This may seem like an odd ingredient but it adds just the perfect taste. I buy whole, dry nutmeg and grate them on my little grating plane.
and last but not least...
I made my own bread crumbs. I know, it seems like it would take time, but it really doesn't. If you don't have a box grater (yes, the old fashioned box grater...It's one of my most used kitchen tools) get one right away! Pop a few pieces of any sandwich bread ( I used honey wheat and day or two old is especially perfect) in the toaster and grate it right up. It's an extra 4 or 5 minutes, but again, so very worth it!
Hope you enjoy! Have a lovely evening and let me know if you love it!