Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Macaroni & Four Cheeses

8 T (1 stick) plus 1 T unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
5 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 1 T all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups grated sharp yellow cheddar cheese (from 8 ounces)
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (from 8 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (from 3 ounces)
20 scallions, white and pale-green parts, thinly sliced
5 ounces fresh goat cheese
4 cups elbow macaroni

Variation: Add 6 slices of bacon, cut into halves or thirds crosswise, to the water to boil the pasta and discard when the pasta is done.

Other variations:

broccoli - blanche florets from one bunch for 5 seconds; plunge into an ice bath; drain, stir into cheese sauce with pasta and bake.

cubed baked ham, shredded prosciutto, sauteed chorizo or other sausage

Preparing the macaroni and four cheeses:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart casserole. Set aside.

Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in the flour, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and smooth. Whisking constantly, gradually add the warm milk. Cook over medium-low heat 8 to 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove the white sauce from the heat; add the salt, pepper and cayenne.

In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup each of the yellow and white cheddar cheeses and 1/4 cup Parmesan; set aside. Set aside 1 tablespoon scallions. Ad the remaining 1 3/4 cups of both cheddar cheeses and 3/4 cup parmesan to the warm white sauce. Stir well. Stir in the remaining scallions and the goat cheese into 1-inch pieces; fold gently to combine. Set the sauce aside.

Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole; top with the reserved scallions and cheeses. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 10 to 12


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