This past weekend, I stepped out of judging for the Mac & Cheese throwdown and what a range of dishes showed up!
We had a white wine & white cheddar option, topped with panko with truffle sauce on the side.
Many thanks to the valiant judges who at three in the afternoon waded their way through pasta, pasta and more pasta, before heading home to make dinner for their families.
I decided on a very traditional version with lots of over the top creamy cheddar sauce, a hint of mustard under a crunchy onion garlic gratin and a side of balsamic drizzle to cut the richness if needed. A basic macaroni & cheese from scratch recipe if you need one.
You will need:
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. mustard
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup parmesean
1 container McClarens aged cheddar
3 cups fusilli pasta, uncooked
1 small onion
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
As in all projects find space and time to focus and gratitude for all the elements that come together as you prepare and offer what is created.
Allow the roux to cook for several minutes before taking the pot off the heat and adding the milk and cream while whisking. The better the roux is incorporated into the dairy, the smoother the sauce will be. Not stirring will allow lumps to form in the sauce.
Once the milk and flour mixture are well combined, return the pot to the heat so that the mixture can thicken.
Children can find aged cheese a little too intense so it may be necessary to go with medium or mild if previous experience indicates that is best.
Cut & crumble the cheese and add to the sauce. Stir off and on over medium heat, making sure the sauce at the bottom of the pot is not burning.
Add salt and 3 cups of pasta.
Elbow macaroni is where this dish gets its name but in this case fusilli was my pasta of choice as more sauce can get caught in the twists.
Once the pasta is cooked, pour the pasta into a collander, separating the hot water from the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot and add the completed sauce.
When it is translucent, puree in a small chopper.
Place the butter in the used pan and melt. Turn up the heat and allow the butter to foam but not burn. This will brown the butter.
Add the breadcrumbs, onion and garlic pwder and Parmesean cheese. Mix well.
The pasta will fit into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. I chose to make individual servings for a slightly different presentation. Fill your conatiner of choice and top with the breadcrumb mixture.
The picture on the left is of another entry. The choice here was to add crispy bacon pieces to half the casserole as an alternate topping. ( Everyone who tried this version went for the bacon, just sayin’. )
Something to consider. The longer the time between combining the pasta and sauce and serving the finished dish, the more the pasta will absorb any additional liquids and therefore as the dish cools down the thicker the mixture will become. If you are going to mix and serve immediately, no issues. If dinner is an hour away, a better idea might be to add another 1/2 cup of milk so that the sauce is thinner and then place the finished dish in a holding environment.
So here is my finished Mac & Cheese, personal sized servings of an old fashioned, made from scratch pasta with lots of rich cheesy sauce, garnished with a little jug of balsamic vinegar for drizzling.
The winner, entered by Madyline, was a deliciously light option with tomatoes, herbs, ricotta and a top layer of cheddar that melted during a final bake. Congratulations Madyline!
There you have it. A lovely Sunday afternoon hosted by Stacey ( Thank you Stacey! ) with lots of food, fun and conversation. What better way to encourage community than a shared adventures in the kitchen?