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Old 05-22-2013, 02:32 PM   #1
jglazer
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Default The BEST Mac And Cheese (Warning: Advanced Recipe)

This is taking mac and cheese to the next level. Some may think its too much but those who actually make this will never look at mac and cheese the same again. I make this way too much but it is sooooo delicious....its important to note that this takes about 1.5 hours from start to finish so this is not a quite dinner, but WELL worth the effort! Also, it feeds about 3-4 hungry people when served as a main dish, possibly more. And its GREAT for leftovers!

Enough chit chat, here is the recipe:

1 lb macaroni (I vary the type, but usually some sort of elbow or spiral works best)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 TB all-purpose flour
2 TB unsalted butter
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
dried basil leaves
2 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise (any tomatoes work really, you just need to have about 1 1/2 cups of tomatoes at the end, I sometimes use a small variety in which case I may need up to 20)
20 large basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons (I may increase this about 50% if you are really into basil)
1 garlic bulb (if you are really into garlic, make this 2 bulbs, that's what I do)
1 cup breadcrumbs
8 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese, diced
6 oz Muenster cheese, shredded (I will replace this with cheddar sometimes, it doesn't really matter, it will be delicious either way, feel free to be creative with this cheese addition)
6 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded
1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded


Onto the steps, its all in the process as a lot of us homebrewers on this site know...

Here is an overview of the steps:

1) Cook Pasta
2) Roast Garlic and Tomatoes
3) Chop Basil
4) Make The Bechamel
5) Make The Cheese Sauce
6) Combine And Bake
7) Melt Into A State Of Pure Joy

Here are the detailed steps...

1) The first thing we want to do is start boiling water for the pasta and preheat the oven to 400. Start the next steps, but when the water is boiling, throw in the pasta, cook al dente, drain pasta well, then combine the pasta with some olive oil in a bowl and set aside until you are ready to combine everything. You will be doing other things while you cook the pasta so make sure not to over cook it as it will continue to cook in the oven.

2) Next we want to roast the tomatoes and garlic because they take a while. The garlic is roasted in the oven at 400f for 30 minutes and the tomatoes are roasted in the over at 400f for 25 minutes, so prep the garlic first. Before roasting we want to completely cover both the garlic and tomatoes in an olive oil/fresh basil/salt/pepper mixture. In a boil combine about 1/4 cup olive oil, 3-4 finely chopped fresh basil leaves, some salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Then cut the top of the garlic bulb(s) off (so the cloves come in contact with the oil mixture), roll them around in the oil mixture, then wrap each bulb in a piece of foil and throw in the oven. Then cut each tomato in half and coat completely with the oil mixture (you may need to create more oil mixture, sometimes I do sometimes I don't depending on which tomatoes I use). I cover a baking sheet with foil, place the tomatoes on top of the foil, and put them into the oven uncovered.

3) While that is roasting, we can chop the basil. Its important to chop the basil a certain way because we don't want it to become mushy and stringy and brown, we want it crisp and clean. That's why you are going to roll about 4-5 leaves together like you are rolling a cigarette, and then slice them with a nice sharp knife. Make sure you aren't chomping down on them with the knife. Continue until all the fresh basil is cut.

3.5) Right around now while the garlic and tomatoes are roasting and I've just completed cutting the basil, my water is usually starting to boil and I'll throw that in.

4) Once the garlic and tomatoes are done roasting, take them out and start to extract the cloves out of the garlic bulb. After 30 minutes of roasting you should be able to pop out each clove with the pointy end of a knife. They are firm enough to where they will stay together but soft enough to where they should pop right out (as long as you cut off the top). For the cloves that are not exposed, just slice right through and pop them out as well. Once you've successfully extract all the cloves, chop them up at varying sizes and put in a bowl for later. Them move to the tomatoes. Sometimes I will de-skin the tomatoes before cutting them up if the skin wants to come off easily, otherwise I just chop them up, throw them in the bowl with the garlic and set aside for later.

4.5) Keep an eye on that pasta, is it al dente yet?

5) Now its time to make the Bechamel. In a saucepan I heat up the milk to a boil and let simmer for 1 minute then remove from heat. In the cast iron (which will go in the oven unless you dont have 1 that is big enough, in that case just use a pan that is big enough to fit the enitre mac and cheese recipe in because this is the pan you will be combining everything together in and it needs to be large, at least 12in wide x 4 in deep) I heat up the butter until it is completely melted but not burning. Once completely melted I will turn off the heat and mix in the flour. Once these are mixed together smoothly, turn heat back on and add milk and stir until it is evenly mixed together.

6) Once the Bechamel is done, you can start adding the cheese. I will usually have the cheese already grated and ready to just throw in, but its also easy enough to grate the cheese right into the pan. Grate all of the cheeses into the Bechamel except about 1/2 cup of the parm. We will save this for the top before baking. Make sure to stir often and get that cheese melting and mixing. It doesnt have to be completely mixed but make sure its more liquid than solid.

6.5) I hope by now that pasta was already drained and oiled up and set aside!

7) Add the roasted garlic and tomatoes into the cheese sauce and stir to mix thoroughly. At this point the cheese may start to stick together a little. Don't worry about it, just as long as you can mix it pretty well.

8) Add the al dente pasta to the sauce and mix thoroughly, making sure that all the pasta gets in contact with some cheese and that there is no pasta on the top that doesnt have some cheese on it.

9) At this point if you are using a cast iron that you are going to bake it in, just combine the 1/2 cup of parm with the breadcrumbs in a bowl and mix slightly, then sprinkle that mixture onto the top of the mac and cheese. If you are trasnfering to a baking dish, do that first THEN sprinkle the breadcrumb/parm mixture on top.

10) Bake in over uncovered for 20-25 minutes depending on how brown you like the top. Just keep an eye on it and take it out when you think its ready...everything is already cooked so there is no harm in consuming it before cooking too long, but you want to make sure the pasta gets cooked in that cheese sauce. Make sure to wait at least until you see bubbles coming from the cheese.

11) Let sit for 5-10 minutes. This is not only to let it cool slightly, but you want to let the cheese solidify slightly and bind all the different ingredients together.

12) Find one of your favorite homebrews, sit back, and eat until you can't move.

Cheers!

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Old 05-22-2013, 03:02 PM   #2
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I hate tomatoes in my mac and cheese but the recipe sounds very solid.

If I could offer a question and a suggestion. Question is why are you oiling up the pasta? Suggestion is adding a melty cheese as well to your bread crumbs

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Old 05-22-2013, 03:35 PM   #3
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Adding oil may be an unnecessary step, but its mostly to prevent the pasta from clumping together when mixing it into the cheese sauce and the oil also adds a bit of richness to the pasta. Of course the cheese sauce contributes to the richness as well but this recipe is not for someone who is trying to keep the calories down...

You could totally add a more melty cheese on top with the breadcrumbs, but I dont only because there is already so much melty cheese in the middle that I am just looking for a cheese that will crisp up nicely with the breadcrumbs for a balance.

I got to say that I also hate tomatoes in most things but because you roast them for 25 minutes and then chop em up, you never actually feel that terrible texture that a lot of people hate and there is never a sharp tomato taste, its more melded.

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Old 05-22-2013, 06:04 PM   #4
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I'm totally making this.

And I'm enlisting the kids' help with it. It's raining out, so I don't feel obligated to be outside putting up hop poles!

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Old 05-22-2013, 06:08 PM   #5
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Mix in some chopped up cook bratwurst, and you've got yourself a meal!!!

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Old 05-22-2013, 06:14 PM   #6
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That's an awful lot of garlic.

I like putting some sauteed finely chopped onions in mine, and then I usually top with panko or crushed ritz crackers, etc. A bit of finely chopped proscuitto, pancetta, or bacon goes a long way, too.


Also, if you put a few drops of olive oil on the garlic before you roast it, and then roast it a bit longer, the garlic becomes soft enough that you can cut off the top a bit, squeeze the other end of the bulb, and out will come a glorious garlic paste that is easier to use than mincing up a bunch of cloves.

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Old 05-22-2013, 06:57 PM   #7
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I just took a look at the cheese list. And I'm pretty sure I'm not going to find half of them in our local store. We'll see.

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Old 05-22-2013, 07:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homercidal View Post
I just took a look at the cheese list. And I'm pretty sure I'm not going to find half of them in our local store. We'll see.

You don't have Mozzarella, Cheddar, Parmesan, or Romano cheese at your local store? Is your local store a gas station?
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:09 PM   #9
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I say make the recipe before you eff with it.

Basil in mac n chz is unusual, but I love some basil!

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Old 05-22-2013, 07:24 PM   #10
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bust all you want on Rachael Ray, but her Italian Mac-n-Cheese is a good recipe if you're short on time

or good for a mashup with the OP's recipe. cheese here sounds a whole lot more tasty than a pack of pre-shredded Sargento's

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