Sunday, June 13, 2010

Blue Mac

Agghhhh . . . I'm having one of those really bad comfort food moments. I opened my antique pine cupboard to get out my little food processor to chop some fresh parsley and I noticed my big blue LeCreuset Dutch oven. It is a fine piece of cookware. I love it and I haven't used it for weeks. I think it's feeling a little neglected. Purely by accident, earlier today I was at Penzey's with my daughter and saw a mouth-watering photograph of the ultimate comfort food--macaroni and cheese--perfectly crusty and oozing butter in a blue casserole dish that looked similar to mine. I could almost smell it. My own big beautiful Dutch oven is just crying out for a huge batch of macaroni and cheese while I'm craving comfort food and feeling a little obsessive, like I won't be able think straight until I get it. It's like a drug. To make matters worse, I have my sister's recipe for macaroni and cheese, a recipe that I consider the benchmark for perfect macaroni and cheese.

Is there a patron saint whom I can beseech to overcome the macaroni and cheese obsession? Is there a 12-step program? Help me! I'm going to be very, very cranky now.

Make your own damned macaroni and cheese.

3 Cheeses and Macaroni

1 pound elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup flour
12 ounces grated Gruyere cheese (4 cups)
8 ounces grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups)
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
1 ½ cup bread crumbs (use good quality white bread)
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the macaroni according to package directions and drain in colander.
Heat the milk to scalding in a small saucepan.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan and add the flour.
Cook the flour in butter for about 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk.
Whisk in the hot milk and cook until thick, about 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Add Gruyere, cheddar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Add the drained macaroni and sun-dried tomatoes and stir well.
Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with bread crumbs.
Put crumb mixture on top of macaroni/cheese mixture and top with Parmesan cheese.
Bake in 375 degree for 30 to 35 minutes, until brown on top.

Note: You can assemble this ahead (except for bread crumb topping) and refrigerate. Add the bread crumbs and Parmesan before placing in oven and bake for 45 minutes.

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