Sunday, December 19, 2010

Homemade Macaroni & Cheese (Pasta With Cheese Sauce)

With all the boxed and frozen mac & cheese available these days, do we really need a recipe for it? Yes, we do! Especially with a cheese sauce that can come in handy in so many ways! This is not the ubiquitous orange-colored stuff - it is a grown-up version with great taste; nor is it going to be orange unless you use cheddar colored with annato. I have added only peas but you may add carrots, corn or other veggies. All you need to round out the meal is a colorful, crisp salad.

Roux (pronounced "roo"), the toasted shallot and flour mixture cooked in butter, is what contributes to the great taste of this sauce besides the other ingredients. It is fantastic served as a fondue for dipping crusty bread cubes or as a sauce over steamed veggies, rice and other pasta. Any leftover sauce can be chilled and reheated slowly over low heat.

To serve the sauce as a fondue, keep it warm in a traditional fondue pot or chafing dish and offer plenty of crusty bread cubes and an assortment of cooked veggies. Bon Appetit!!

Ingredients:

1 package Macaroni (14 oz) or other pasta shapes
1 package frozen peas

For the Cheese Sauce:

2 large Shallots, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Butter/Olive Oil
1 clove Fresh Garlic, minced
3 - 4 sprigs fresh Thyme, minced
3 Tbsp Unbleached flour
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dry White Wine
2 cups Milk
4 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated
4 Tbsp Blue Cheese, crumbled
4 oz. Shredded Jack, Pepper Jack, Gruyere, or Cheddar Cheese
4 Tbsp Boursin Cheese (garlic & herb flavor)
1/2 cup Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh Dill, chopped (optional)

Method:

Cook the pasta according to directions on the package until at dente - firm to the bite. Drain and mix with the peas if using frozen peas. If using fresh peas, add them to the pasta a couple of minutes before the pasta is done.

While the pasta is cooking make the sauce.

Prepare the roux: Heat the butter/oil in a large pan and cook the shallots, garlic, a tiny pinch of salt, red pepper flakes and a few grinds of the black pepper until they are soft and starting to color.

Stir in the flour and cook until lightly browned and fragrant; stir in the chopped thyme. Stir in the wine and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Pour the milk slowly in a thin stream while whisking constantly to incorporate roux and the milk.

Cook whisking often until the sauce begins to simmer; reduce the heat and simmer until sauce thickens and is bubbly - about 5 minutes or so.

Turn off the heat and add the cheeses little by little while stirring vigorously until all the cheese is mixed in and the sauce is smooth. Don't be alarmed if at first the sauce is stringy; just keep stirring vigorously until it is smooth.

Add the warm drained pasta to the sauce along with the chopped herbs and mix well.

Serve hot with lots of freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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