Recipe #151: Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese

Recipe #151: Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese

What could be more quintessentially American -- or should I say, quintessential to the American childhood experience -- than "Mac (Macaroni) & Cheese"?!

Ingredients

  • What could be more quintessentially American -- or should I say, quintessential to the American childhood experience -- than "Mac (Macaroni) & Cheese"?!
  • To be honest, I never thought I'd be adding a macaroni & cheese recipe to this blog, especially after what I wrote in this post, but then again, stranger things have happened. ;) However, I'm hardly going against my earlier stated motto, (i.e., "Life is short, so why only eat hamburgers or mac & cheese?" ;) ). Frankly, previous to last night's recipe testing, I don't even remember the last time I actually ate macaroni & cheese. That's because it's usually made (by others) in incredibly fattening ways, so I tend to avoid it if it's served at a party or buffet. :) However, I'm offering you a healthy homemade alternative that satisfies the taste buds as well, so sure, why not indulge in a guilt-free fashion once in a while. :) And, true to form, this "ain't no ordinary mac 'n' cheese recipe." :) It's a little bit less traditional than your typical macaroni & cheese recipe, made a little bit more sophisticated for us adults. ;)
  • The good news is that this recipe has far less butter than most existing recipes out there, just a hint for flavor -- and there's absolutely NO cream or flabby, rubbery-tasting slices of processed American cheese, etc. -- so it's a LOT healthier, (not to mention MUCH better-tasting!), than most versions that rely heavily on these ingredients.
  • It still tastes incredibly rich & creamy. I know, hard to believe, but I swear, it's true. :) Also, the sauce has a surprisingly thick consistency. A lot of "health food" recipes I've seen out there seem to rely on ingredients like cottage cheese or use all skim milk -- The first seems like it'd make the sauce too lumpy while the latter by itself probably isn't going to make the sauce thick enough. The secret to this recipe's sauce is the addition of a bit of flour, which acts as a very effective thickening agent. There's also a pinch of mustard in there too. Sounds strange, I know, but it really does enhance the flavor considerably.
  • I was really pleased with how this recipe turned out. Hope you will be too!
  • Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese
  • Pasta Ingredients:
  • 1 c. dry, uncooked Barilla Plus elbow macaroni pasta
  • 4 c. lightly salted water
  • drop of olive oil (to keep pasta from sticking together & to sides of pot)
  • Topping Ingredients:
  • 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp. freshly grated/shredded Asiago cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano, if you prefer)
  • 1 Tbsp. plain bread crumbs (use panko, Japanese bread crumbs, or make yourself from leftover, stale bread)
  • Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp. unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. skim milk
  • 1/4 c. light nondairy creamer
  • 3/4 c. reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano leaves
  • 1/8 tsp. dried, ground (yellow) mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
Read the whole recipe on Cooking with Corey