Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Marry Me Mac & Cheese

Sometimes I get so inspired by an idea that I just can't fathom not doing it rightthatsecond.  I have limited patience.  I am impulsive.  I am okay with these traits and believe they should be embraced.  Especially when they lead me to the dish I am about to share with you.

Remember the fabulous picnic I had recently?  Believe it or not, not all of the cheese was consumed in the original picnic (that would have been a miracle).  I have had three blocks of cheese stankin' up my fridge for a few weeks now.  And believe me, when you live in 350 square feet, cheese stankin' up your fridge means cheese is stankin' up your entire studio.  It needed to be dealt with.  And since I value my pennies these days (meaning I would not throw it out), I went to the intraweb for some inspiration.  Once I came across a Mac & Cheese, I browsed several recipes.  I didn't find one that I thought fit perfectly, so I used them more as a guide.  I could not wait to get home and put my ideas to work.  So I didn't wait - I went home and cheffed it up over my lunch hour.  Impulsive much?

Marry Me Mac & Cheese
1.5 cups of Milk
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
2.5 cups Soft Cheeses - cubed
1 Tbsp herbs
8 oz pasta shells

Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan.  Watch closely - the milk should not boil.  Make sure the pan is big enough to accommodate all the cheeses later on.  I splurged with whole milk because there's not anything even remotely healthy about this and whole milk makes things taste better because it's thicker.  

That's right kids - I'm living on the edge with my whole milk.  WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Somebody hold me back!

Delicious Blue Cheese
Note about the cheese:  you want to use soft cheeses.  Cheeses that will melt well. Parmasean is not an example of this.  I used a gouda, a blue cheese and a Mobay.  Oh, what's that you say?  You don't know what Mobay is?  NEITHER DID I.  Despite growing up a second and a half away from Wisconsin, I don't know jack about cheese.  Especially not fancy cheese.  I stood in front of the cheese case at the Trader Joes for an extraordinarly unecessary amount of time pondering.  In the end, exhaustion won out and Mobay happened to be within reach.

Mobay... moldy crusts removed.
I WIN!  Even if on a technicality... 

Once the milk is near a boil - add flour and whisk.  Keep whisking.  Do not let sit.  If you keep whisking, the mixture will thicken up a bit and you want this.  Takes about a minute.  You'll know when it ready because it will be thicker and fluffier.

Now, reduce the heat to low and add in your cheese.  Keep stirring as the cheeses begin to soften.  Keep stirring until all the chunks are melted.  The blue melted first in my cheese, so my first tastes were sort of nervewracking... leading me to believe that I possible had created a lethal cheese combination.  But once it's all melted and smooth, take a taste.  Isn't that AMAZING?  Don't you at the very least want to date yourself?  I did.  Mine was so damn good, I would have proposed to myself right then and there.  I love cheese. And my genius self.

Step 1

Keep working it....


Pour over your shells of choice and into a glass baking dish.  I chopped up some bay leaves and threw in some rosemary and thyme.  Other good spices would be sage, but I didn't have any on hand.

Toss in the oven at 375 and bake for about 25 minutes until the shells have browned a little bit on top.  If you are out of time, you can make ahead of time and refrigerate until you're ready to bake.  Making it right away is probably better though as the cheese breaks down a bit if you cool and then reheat in the oven.  Don't get me wrong, it's still really good, but I have a feeling it is not QUITE as good as it would have been if made right away.

Divine.  Delicious. Easy.

Give it go!  This recipe is merely a guide - jazz it up with your favorite cheeses and herbs!  Such a major upgrade from the typical box cheddar stuff - but barely more work.

What cheese would you use to make your own version of Marry Me Mac & Cheese?

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