Thursday, September 11, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Grown Up Mac and Cheese

Okay, so I was going to try this recipe "AS IS" and not substitute anything but...I just couldn't bring myself to include the blue cheese and Gruyere. Growing up in a German-Swiss home I have had my fill of stinky cheeses and really don't care for them or how they make me feel after having eaten them (i.e. bloated and tired!) Blah! So, I substituted smoked mozzarella for the Gruyere, kept the sharp cheddar and just added a bit more of each to make up for the loss of the blue cheese. I added just a pinch of salt with the nutmeg and pepper, and also added some peas because that's the way my Mom used to make it :)

And the results? YUMMY! It truly made my heart sing...a beautiful, light crunchy crust of cheese and breadcrumbs (oh, by the way, I used a stale's all I had) and underneath the gooey loveliness of the mac (or in this case gemelli) and velvety cheese sauce. And interspersed are little yummy surprises of bacon and peas. And that little burst of freshness from the basil...Delicious! I will be saving this one for my recipe box...Thank You Ina!

Barefoot Contessa's Grown Up Mac and Cheese
Copyright Ina Garten and Food Network, All Rights Reserved

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.


Christine said...

Love your substitutions. Your dish looks delicious!

Anne said...

Wow, I love your additions to this recipe. I'll have to try peas next time- I'd feel less guilty! Great job!

Gigi said...

Great substitutions! This recipe is a holiday staple for my family. We heart stinky cheese! Great post and pics.

The Farmer's Wife said...

I changed mine up a bit too...that is the joy of cooking;) I love your blog...thanks for stopping by, I am looking forward to more Ina!

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the group (and blogging)! I LOVE smoked mozzarella. I wish I had a ball right now in fact. Your cookies for the troops look wonderful!

Tanya said...

I love the substitution of smoked mozzarella! Your dish looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

That looks positively amazing... pass some my way!

Andrea said...

Welcome to barefoot bloggers! It is such a fun group. I love your addition of peas, I will have to try that, it sounds like something we would really enjoy. Even though I'm a fan of the stinky cheeses your substitution of smoked mozzarella sounds wonderful! I will have to try it your way since my husband is not a stinky cheese fan either and he wasn't too impressed with the cheeses in the original recipe. Thanks for sharing!