Thursday, September 11, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Grown Up Mac and Cheese

Obviously, as evidenced by my membership in Barefoot Bloggers, I have a deep love and affection for Ina Garten. Now I have the feeling that I want to marry her and have her babies. I don't think I have ever tried a single recipe of hers that hasn't been simply wonderful. Our first September recipe was chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl. This is something that I wasn't really looking forward to making. While everyone else in the country is boasting about cooler temps and fall, the weather has finally decided to turn summer in Southern California and it's been hot and humid the last few weeks. It's cooled down the last few days, but I made this over last weekend's 90 degree temps. Also, this recipe called for three different kinds of cheeses. Normally, this is something I am totally up for, but due to my dwindling bank account (I need to find a better paying job...and/or a sugar daddy) and the fact that I am not the hugest fan of blue cheese, I decided to leave that one out. Instead, I just increased the amounts of Gruyere and cheddar, but other than that, this was one of the few recipes I actually followed almost to a tee. Ina says this should be served in two serving dishes, but this made enough food to last me for days. It is definitely not something that should be made if you're on a diet, or even think about going on a diet because just thinking about this recipe may cause you to gain ten pounds. Luckily, I don't make mac and cheese very often so I didn't feel horribly guilty about eating this. It takes a bit of time to make and dirties quite a few dishes. I strongly suggest that while it's baking, you clean up the dirty dishes. Visit the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll to see how everyone else's mac and cheese turned out.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

4 ounces center cut bacon
Vegetable or extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, roughly chopped (I used ciabatta and it was great)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan lined with aluminium foil and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven (there will be hot grease in the pan). Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle a splash of oil into a pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, slowly add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere and cheddar, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg (I forgot the salt and pepper and it was fine). Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes or an 8x8 baking dish.

Place the bread slices in a food processor and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.

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Deb in Hawaii said...

I love the photo with the large basil leaf--beautiful! This was a great recipe. I did clean up a few dishes as I went but there were still a lot! I just want to be adopted by Ina! ;-)

Prudy said...

Lovely, lovely! It's still hot around here too-hovering around 11 but I still loved my mac and cheese.

Erica said...

Can I just say, I love the variety in the foods you make! I think its so great that you make things from all ends of the spectrum! Mac and Cheese is always delicious!

vanillasugarblog said...

Oh such good photos my dear. Wonderful! I love your style.

Suzie said...

Phew - you are very devoted to make a casserole in a heatwave! Lucky that teh result was so worthwhile. I loved the flavours - glad you did too!

Danielle said...

Haha, Mac Cheese is such a classic and I always feel like a little kid when I crave it :) so glad I have a recipe for big girls now!

Anonymous said...

It was hot around here until last week, we had this wicked cold front for 3 days and then it's back to mego humidity. Glad you liked the dish! Mac & Cheese is one of my favs.

Dee said...

Grown up mac & cheese is exactly what this home needs! My big boy and the little one would hoover this down in seconds. Perfect with a glass of white also ;)

I hear you on the better paying job *sigh*

Veronica said...

It's actually been quite cool here. But I love mac and cheese in hot or cool weather!

Arlene Delloro said...

I love Ina's recipes, too. This mac and cheese needs only a very cold glass of Pinot Grigot to morph into a decadent fantasy.

Anonymous said...

I live in SoCal, too, so completely understand that our summer has a ways to go...Looks really yummy! I love Ina's recipes and agree that they serve many more than she says. Fun to make things that are not diet food, but just take small portions. That's whay we've been working on.

musicbleep said...

That leaf is just to die for! M&C what??

Anonymous said...

Wow! I so have to try this!

Heather B said...

Great job! It look so delicious!