Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese

being comfortable, part 1

1998 - I watched Emeril do his thing with mac n' cheese the other day and thought, I can do better than that. Here's my recipe, and it's a good one! Almost like fondue over noodles.

I've made this several times (see my almost disaster described at the bottom of this page) and it never disappoints the real cheese lovers. This is not a cheap meal - it takes a lot of cheese and some of them cost a few dollars. However, the result is an orgasm of cheesiness.

Time: 90 minutes
Serves: 10 as a side dish

A. sharp cheddar 12 ounces   
Romano cheese 12 ounces   
Parmesan 12 ounces   
  Swiss 12 ounces   
  Gruyere 12 ounces   

Grate the cheddar, Romano, and Parmesan into one bowl.

Grate the Swiss and Gruyere into another bowl. 

B. milk, whole 1 cup  
butter, unsalted 4 ounces  
ingredient amount prep

In a large pot start 4 quarts of salted water to a boil.

In a saucepan gently heat the milk and butter over medium low.

When the butter is melted add the Cheddar, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses. Stir often. Do not let the mixture get too hot! Gentle is the key. I put the electric on medium low and it took about 20 minutes for it to all melt. Don't rush this or you will burn the cheese.

When the cheese is melted, remove from the heat.

C. fusilli pasta 1 pound The corkscrew stuff.
heavy cream 2 cups  
flour 3 tablespoons  

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente - set a timer.

Stir in the cream.

Whisk in the flour a little at a time until it is smooth. 

D. salt to taste  
ground black pepper to taste  

When the pasta is done, drain it, but keep back one cup of the water. Leave the pasta in the big pot.

With the big pot off the heat, add the cup of water back to the pasta. Add the Swiss and Gruyere cheeses and stir.

When these cheeses have begun to melt, add the sauce and stir.

Put the pot back on a medium heat until everything is melted and creamy. 

Salt and pepper to taste.



January 2007 Update - Getting out of trouble

Issue #1: I was working at Her house and couldn't find a cheese grater. I was able to buy the Romano and Parmesan pre-shredded, but the others were up to me. I cut the cheeses into small chunks, but it wasn't shredded.

Issue #2: I was running late for the local Sierra Club meeting and didn't have time to do it all right. I got the first three cheeses all melted and ready about an hour before we had to leave, so they cooled a bit.

Half an hour before leaving I put the sauce on medium low and stirred it back to warmth. I worried that the little chunks would not melt over the pasta, so I added the Swiss and Gruyere to the sauce and melted them there. But they didn't melt completely. What to do?

I added one cup of the boiling pasta water. That thinned the sauce too much, but also melted most of the last cheese chunks - there were still a few.

In an emergency maneuver I drained the pasta, put it back in the pot. I set the plastic colander on the pasta and poured the sauce into it. This colander has good sized holes. I used a wooden spoon to stir the sauce through the holes. Most of the sauce went through and what was left I could mash to smoothness.

I ended up with a six inch ball of rapidly cooling cheese in the colander. I dropped that into the pasta and stirred it all up. Luckily with the heat of the pasta it all blended together again.

Looking back on it, I think those chunks of cheese might have melted if I had followed the recipe and just dumped it all together.

The good news is that this time the sauce was really like a nice fondue. More like a thick cheese soup over pasta. Everyone loved it.