October 2nd, 2013

Ratatouille: Chef's Toque

Cheeserific Mac & Cheese

Cheeserific Mac & Cheese

* "Totally yummy!" - Timothy (local food critic)
* "No one cooks mac & cheese like a rat!" - Twitter (my account)

Pasta, large shells or open pasta preferred
Cheddar, a good amount of medium or sharp cheddar, grated (maybe 4-5 cups measured as grated)
Cream, 1-1.5 cups
Butter, 3-5 tbsp
Egg, 1
Ham or bacon, cooked and diced - optional
Breadcrumbs, 0.5 cups - optional
Spices: quality paprika, thyme, nutmeg

Large pot
Casserole or baking dish (e.g. 12”x8”)

1. Setup:
(a) Start pot of water boiling for pasta.
(b) Preheat oven to 350˚F/medium.
(c) Rub casserole or baking dish with oil to prevent sticking.
2. Put 1 cup of cream in sauce pan
3. Break egg and whisk into cream
4. Add a good handful of grated cheese and 3 tbsp butter and spices to pan. I like paprika, thyme, and nutmeg in about a 3:3:1 ratio. You don’t need a lot of seasoning if you have a good cheese. Alternately, you can add a secondary cheese to vary the flavor.
5. Bring up to medium heat, stirring, so cheese starts to melt
6. About this time, add the pasta to the water. Boil the pasta until tender and then strain.
7. Once the mix in the saucepan is melting, add the remaining cheese in handfuls. Add additional cream and/or butter as needed to keep it thick but smooth.
8. Remove sauce from heat when cheese is fully incorporated.
9. Assemble casserole: pasta down in dish, pour sauce over, optional layer of ham/bacon, second layer of pasta, pour remaining sauce, top with a bit more shredded cheese and optional breadcrumbs to ensure a good top. Sprinkle extra dashes of paprika over top.
10. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly bubbling and top is fully melted. Optionally broil to add color and crust to top.