Friday, November 02, 2007

Annaroni and Cheese

Over the summer I made macaroni and cheese for some friends. They rather liked it, and have dubbed it, or perhaps me (?), Annaroni & cheese. Someone asked me for the recipe tonight, but I really don't have a recipe to give. I just *make* the stuff. It's never the same twice, and as far as I know, it's really just basic m&c. Having just made it this afternoon though, I thought I'd try to jot down, for posterity, how I make this macaroni and cheese that has garnered me a new identity and probably rushed many friends toward early coronary bypasses.

Start off with a nice big pan. I like to use my big le cruset soup pot (cheese sauce cleans out of enamel well).
Over warm heat, melt some butter. Let's say, oh, 3 Tbsp.
Crush up a bunch of garlic into the melted butter. I usually go for 5-6 cloves. Maybe more if I'm not going to be socializing. But definitely no less.
Now, being super careful, make sure your heat is just high enough to simmer the garlic a bit, without scorching it. If it get's burnt and stinky, start again! There is no recovering from scorched garlic. You must banish it.
When the garlic is just the lightest bit tan, stir in some flour (1/3 cup should do) with a whisk. Make sure the flour and butter really unite into a nice paste, or little butter/garlic/flour balls. No one should be left out of this party. Make sure everyone is mingling.
Keep an eye on the situation. You want the flour to toast a little bit, to get rid of that horrid raw-flour taste, but again - beware the scorching. When things smell sort of toasty, pour in some milk (~3 cups), using your whisk again to get everything nice and even.
Let the roux/milk situation cook for a bit on low/medium heat, stirring frequently. At this point, toss in some dry mustard and ground black pepper. I can't even begin to estimate how much. Keep simmering over medium heat. You want it to get warm, steamy and thicken a bit, but not necessarily actually boil.
Now for the fun part - the cheese! I use somewhere between 2-4 cups of various cheese. Typically, cheddar plays a big part, but beyond that, I usually go for about 4 types of cheese, total. Tonight I used cheddar, gruyere, muenster and parmesan. I also used panarello, but I'll get to that in a sec.
Grate up all your cheeses, and stir them into the milk sauce. Keep stirring until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is uniform and creamy.
While all this is going on, you should also cook a box of macaroni (or penne or rigatoni or whatever suits your mood).
Once the noodles are cooked and drained and the cheese sauce is ready to go, stir the two together. Taste some - you've waited long enough!
Spread the whole shebang into a large casserole dish. Set aside for a minute while you crush up about 20 melba toasts.
Melt about 2 Tbsp. butter in a small frying pan, and toss in the crumbs. Stir around until everything smells toasty, then sprinkle the buttery crumbs over the top of the mac and cheese.
Tonight, before baking, I also dotted tiny cubes of the panarello on top of the crumbs. That was a delicious addition, I must say.
Now, toss the whole thing into the oven at 350 degrees, for about 30 minutes (or until it's golden and bubbly and your house smells divine!).


Warning: do NOT consume this mac and cheese the night before a blood test. You will fail. Your doctor might try to sue me. No one wants that.

1 comment:

elizabeth said...

That sounds divine and wouldn't you know it - I'm planning to make mac & cheese this weekend! My MIL makes THE BEST mac & cheese and I could use her recipe (I grew up on Kraft and don't have a recipe of my own) but it probably wouldn't turn out as good as hers. So I'll try yours! Thanks!