thank you, inventor of the cheese.
So, here’s a funny/scary warning to you: after roasting cornish hen, baking mac and cheese and pumpkin pie in your oven, be sure to clean out the bottom of the oven! You may have a conflagration of near-disastrous proportions when you attempt to use said oven to reheat frozen hot wings for the Pacquaio-de la Hoya fight party you’re hosting the next week.
Where was I? Oh yes, recapping our Thanksgiving dinner. It was delightful, and small, and just right for me, Mr. E, and our friend Y who came to
toss the salad join the festivities. Visual documentation of the Yum:
Our menu was: carmelized carrots, mashed potatoes, three-cheese mac and cheese, macque choux corn, cornish hen, and wild rice-almond-something else-I-forgot stuffing.
Spinach-walnut-cranberry-goat cheese salad from Trader Joe’s, lovingly tossed by Y
Cranberry jelly from a can (truly tragic, but necessary)
And a fantastic cream cheese pumpkin pie (recipe from Cooks.com)
All delicious, of course, but the piece de la resistance for me was the mac and cheese, a staple for all holidays and any other time I want to pack on the calories. (Did I mention I”m lactose-intolerant, too? Fun times!) I got this recipe from my Man of Honor, N., but I think I’ve modified it for the better- though I’m sure he’d disagree. Meat eaters know cheese better than former vegans, is all I’m gonna say about that.
Here’s the recipe, more or less (I’m terrible at calculating quantities for recipes I do on the fly).
WordsandSteel’s Killer Mac and Cheese
- 1 1/2- 2 Tbs. Butter
- 1 1/2-2 Tbs. Olive Oil
- 1 Tbs. Flour
- 1 package medium shells or macaroni
- 1/3 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you’re vegetarian)
- 2/3-1 cup milk (I use 2% at least, if not whole milk)
- Herbs de provence, or thyme, rosemary, sage
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- bay leaf
- Panko or regular bread crumbs
- 3 blocks of cheese: I always use smoked gouda and gruyere, then throw in a third based on what’s available at the market; preferably something a bit sharp and salty, usually a raw cow’s milk cheese or cheddar-like cheese. Have used Asiago, Deux de Montagnes, Appleby’s Cheshire, and Irish Cheddar before to good effect. Pick something that interests you! As for quantities… each block is around .25lbs or less. So, if the cheese is valued at $18/lb, let’s say, I’ll pick up a block that’s about $4-6. You’ll have leftovers, but you can serve them as a cheese plate too.
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees F
- Boil water and cook pasta until al dente. Drain well and portion into two 8×8 pans/casseroles
- Grate three cheeses into bowl and set aside. This is the most time consuming part! Use the largest setting on your grater. I use about 2/3 of the gouda and gruyere blocks, and about 1/2 of the third cheese block, depending on how strong its flavor is. You want to end up with about 2- 2 1/2 cups of grated cheese.
- heat large saucepan on medium heat; melt butter into oil. When melted, add flour and stir to make a roux
- Pour milk in slowly and warm, do not boil! Add bay leaf. Pour in stock and stir to incorporate. Stir occasionally until the liquids thicken from roux, approximately 5 minutes; do not boil.
- Stir in grated cheese blend, until all cheese is melted. At this point, you should have a thick, nearly-smooth mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Add herbs to taste just before you remove from heat.
- Remove bay leaf. Pour cheese mixture over macaroni in pans. Combine well. Sprinkle with panko or other bread crumbs if desired.
- Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake another 5-10 minutes until panko browns.