Classic Comfort Food: Mac N Cheese

Mac N Cheese.
Classic comfort food.  Any season.  Anytime.
Swanky, smoky, holiday style or down home classics.
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prep by your kitchen preferences.
For real southern comfort  simple down home goodness…
Tomato Mac and Cheese 
courtesy of Paula Deen
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons minced onion
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
3/4 tablespoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 cups milk
3 cups shredded Cheddar, divided
4 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dish
2 ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, until tender. Add the flour, salt, dry mustard, and paprika; mix well. Stir in the milk and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of the shredded cheese and stir until melted. Toss in the macaroni and pour into the prepared dish. Cover the macaroni with tomato slices and season salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The last few minutes, top with the remaining cheese and return to the oven until the cheese melts. Serve hot.
And even a special version for St. Pat’s celebrations
Irish Macaroni and Cheese with Stout
3 tsps butter ( kerrygold )
2 tsps shallots ( chopped )
3/4 cup Guinness
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup swiss cheese ( kerrygold grated )
1/2 cup cheddar cheese ( kerrygold vintage, grated )
1/2 cup dubliner cheese
3 1/2 cups pasta
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 35 F and butter a 9×13-inch baking dish or six 6-ounce ramekins.
Cook pasta acording to its directions. Al dente is fine. Cool pasta and set aside for later.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 teaspoon of the butter. Add the shallots and cook until soft, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the Guinness and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Then add the cream and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Separately, melt remaining 2 teaspoons of butter.
In a bowl, combine the cooked pasta, cheese, and cream mixture. Pour into prepared pan or ramekins. Top with bread crumbs and spoon melted butter over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, until bread crumbs are lightly browned and sauce is bubbling.
Swanky Mac N Cheese
two 1 1/2-2 pound lobsters
1 bunch asparagus
2 pounds medium shell pasta
1/2 cup each of celery, onions, and carrots
2 cups Fontina cheese
1 cup Gruyère cheese
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 quarts heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
white truffle oil
3-4 slices of white truffle (optional)
olive oil In a large pot of well-salted boiling water, blanch asparagus. Use the same water to cook the pasta. Toss a little olive oil into the cooked pasta so it does not stick together and set aside. In a large pot of boiling water, cook lobsters for approximately 6-8 minutes. When shells are bright red, remove from water, and place in ice water or run under cold water to stop the lobster from cooking any further. Remove claws, shoulder, and tail meat, and set aside. Dice celery, onions, and carrots, grate Fontina and Gruyère cheeses, and set aside.
For the Sauce:
In a large pot, sauté diced veggies in olive oil. When veggies become translucent pour in white wine and add the bay leaf. Let the wine reduce by half and then add the heavy cream. Let the cream come just to a simmer and reduce to medium heat. After this reduces for approximately 20 minutes, add both cheeses (reserve a little for later). Make sure to stir frequently. You want the sauce just hot enough to melt the cheese, but if it gets any hotter, you’ll run the risk of the cream and oils separating. Once the cheese is incorporated, season with salt and pepper to taste. After seasoning, strain the cheese sauce through a medium-to-small mesh sieve or colander.
To the bowl:
In a large sauté or baking pan over medium heat, add the cheese sauce and lobster. Once heated add the pasta and the reserved cheeses. This should achieve a nice mac and cheese consistency. The final step is to add sliced asparagus just before plating. This ensures they remain nice and green. Once the mac and cheese is in the bowl, the final touch:  drizzle a modest amount of truffle oil over the entire dish.
Smoky Mac N Cheese
3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
8 ounces smoked Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Muir Glen® organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, well drained
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
Cook and drain macaroni as directed on box. Return to saucepan–keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 13×9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 2-quart saucepan, heat cream, mustard, salt and red pepper to boiling. Reduce heat; stir in Cheddar cheese with wire whisk until smooth. Pour sauce over macaroni. Stir in tomatoes and onions. Pour into baking dish. In small bowl, stir together Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs; stir in oil. Sprinkle over top of macaroni mixture. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are bubbly and top is golden brown.
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