Friday, November 20, 2009

Thankful: VA's Mac and Cheese (Home Cooking)

Mac and Cheese

Sometimes we take the little things for granted.
A stranger opening the door for you.
Finding a failed meter right in front of the expensive valet. Take that!
Matching socks.
Realizing that your favorite food truck is in front of your office.
This year, on Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family, great friends and all the little things that put a smile on my face.

Inspired by the Mac and Cheese from bay cities that put a smile on my face after a long week at work, I decided to make my interpretation of Mac and Cheese for my Thanksgiving Potluck. I know that Thanksgiving is next Thursday, but I will be eating my way through the motherland - Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The following is my version of Mac and Cheese. Like me, it is Asian American. I used panko breadcrumbs instead of white bread to create a light crispy topping. And also like me, it tries to be health. Instead of regular pasta, I used gluten free vegetable pasta, but with the 3-cheese sauce, you will never know the difference. Enjoy!

VA's Mac and Cheese

Makes 12 Servings
Ingredients
  • 8 tablespoons Butter
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 6 cups warm Milk
  • ¼ teaspoons Nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 5 cups Sharp White Cheddar
  • 2 cups Fontina
  • 1 ½ cups Parmesan Reggiano
  • 1 ½ cup Panko Bread Crumbs – crisper, airier texture
  • 1 pound Vegetable Radiatore Pasta – healthier, gluten free, made of vegetables
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Directions

Preparation
1. Pre-Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish, set aside.
3. Place panko bread crumbs in a medium bowl.
Panko Topping
4. Toss with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
5. Combined ½ cup parmesan reggiano, ½ cup fontina and 1 ½ cups of sharp white cheddar.
Cooking the Pasta
6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
7. Add noodles and stir well to separate.
8. Cook until the outside of the pasta is cooked and inside is underdone, about 9 minutes. (Take a piece to taste around 7 minutes)
9. Drain the noodles at once and rinse with very cold water. Reserve.
10. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.
Mornay Sauce (Cheese Sauce)
11. In a medium saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
12. Whisk in flour, about 3 minutes. (Do not allow it color)
Roux
13. Gently whisk in milk. One cup at a time.
14. Bring to a simmer.
15. Add bay leaf and nutmeg.
Mornay Sauce (Cheese Sauce)
16. Simmer until thick, 20-30 minutes.
17. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper.
18. Remove sauce from heat.
19. Stir in remaining cheese. Set aside.
20. Stir the reserved pasta into the cheese sauce.
21. Add 1 cup of pasta water.
22. Pour mixture into the casserole dish.
23. Sprinkle topping onto the top.
Mac and Cheese
24. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes.
25. Cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!
Happy Turkey Day!

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