04 August 2011

(Almost) Perfect Mac-n-Cheese

(Almost) Perfect Mac-n-Cheese
*Recipe from Cooking Quest, Serves Four People as a Side Dish

8 ounces Penne Pasta (approximately half a box; we used the Ronzoni Smart Grain) // 2 cups Beecher’s Flagship Cheese Sauce (see list or sauce ingredients below) // 1 ounce Cheddar, Grated // 1 ounce Gruyere Cheese, Grated // 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chile Powder (Ancho Chile Powder also works well)

Sauce Ingredients
1/4 cup Butter // 1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour // 3 cups Non-Fat Milk //14 ounces Semi-Hard Cheese, grated (we used Sharp Cheddar) // 2 ounces Semi-Soft Cheese (we used crumbled Gorgonzola) // 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt // 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Chile Powder // 1/8 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Sauce Prepartion
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk and cook for two minutes; which makes a roux (a substance used for thickening sauces).Preparation

Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, about ten minutes, stirring frequently; which turns the roux into a bechamel.

Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, salt, chile powder, & garlic powder. Stir until the cheese is melted & all the ingredients are incorporated, about three minutes. If the cheese isn’t melting completely you can put the pan on low heat.

Use immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil or butter an 8-inch dish. Cook the penne about two minutes less than the package directions. The noodles will finish cooking in the sauce in the oven. Rinse the pasta with cold water & set aside.

Combine cooked pasta & prepared sauce in a medium bowl & mix carefully, but thoroughly. Scrape the pasta into a prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the cheeses then the chile powder. Bake uncovered for twenty to thirty minutes or until the top has a nice golden crust. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

This pasta may also be made as a main dish by doubling ingredient amounts, using a 9×13 inch baking pan, & increasing the baking time to thirty-five minutes.

*This mac-n-cheese is very good, but I personally wouldn't deem it as perfect; we want to experiment with this general recipes again using a different combination of cheeses. It definitely beats out boxed-mac-n-cheese.

Image: Cooking Quest // Design by Erin

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