Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese

Though food historians credit the Italians for inventing macaroni and cheese, and the English for developing a casserole of baked pasta and Cheddar, in my mind mac 'n' cheese is an American dish through and through.

This is my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe, which is based on one from Epicurious.com. The breadcrumbs make a wonderful garlicky, crispy top.

1/2 loaf white bread
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound cavatappi or cellentani pasta*
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups cream
3 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Gouda
1 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a baking dish. (My dish is 8x6 and 4 inches deep. This recipe also works well in a standard 9x9 Pyrex dish.)

To make the garlic breadcrumbs, remove the crust from the white bread. Grate the bread using the fine side of a box grater. Finely mince garlic. Sauté garlic in a large frying pan. Add breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Toss until the garlic is incorporated and the breadcrumbs are lightly toasted, about three to five minutes.

Cook pasta in well-salted boiling water until al dante. Drain and return to the pot.

Make white sauce by melting butter in a medium pot. Whisk in flour. Add milk, cream, and nutmeg and whisk until the butter/flour mixture is completely incorporated. Bring to a boil, and then remove from the heat.

Pour the white sauce over the pasta, add cheeses, and mix together. Taste, then season with salt and pepper. Pour pasta into the baking dish. Add the breadcrumbs to the top. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown.

* Hollow, corkscew pastas. If unavailable, elbow macaroni can also be used.


Andrea said...

Have you made this here in Germany yet? Homemade macaroni is my son's most favorite dish but I can't seem to find the right cheese/milk/cream combo here. I've been trying for two years now but it just does not taste the same as I made in the US. I have used both the English Cheddar and the Irish Cheddar from the cheese counter and neither melts smooth nor has the sharp flavor. (I've also tried mixing with Gouda). I melt butter and add a little flour to thicken, add milk (since the only 'cream' available here is sahne schlag - whipping cream) when bubbling add the cheese and stir till melted. But it just doesn't come out right!
I am curious to see how you make substitutions for this with German ingredients.

Erin said...

Yes. I made this using Cheddar cheese from the deli counter at Toom and Gouda from a package. Also, I used whipping cream, not the super thick schlag that comes in a box). The cheese doesn't have the same sharpness that I get in the states, that's why I also included a health does of Parmesan.