With the holidays right around the corner are you looking to eat light for now? Well then get the hell out of here cause tonight we’re making mac-n-cheese! Look, I try to eat healthy as much as possible. I eat a good breakfast, stopped drinking soda, cut down on beer, switched to multi-grain bread and all that. But sometimes you just gotta say screw it, I am making a calorie neutron bomb tonight. Besides, in the last few days in Montreal the average temperature has been -78 and we got about 9 feet of snow so I need me some comfort food.
Most of my life I thought mac-n-cheese was the most vile pile of garbage around. That was because I had only ever been exposed to the boxed version. I can still remember when I was 4 and my grandmother forced me to eat it. Just the smell and look of it made me ill. She doused it with ketchup cause you know, everything is better with ketchup. I had a bit and then proceeded to redecorate her living room with barf. At least the ketchup got it to match nicely with the shag rug. Hey, it was the 70s alright? To this day when I smell the boxed crap I will head to the basement or flat out run away. But when you take the time to make a batch of this stuff from scratch it can be the best part of a frigid day.
You know what I just realized? I talk alot. Here’s the recipe(my own take on a recipe I found in Weber’s Smoke.):
Weaken Your Knees Mac-n-Cheese
7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Finely diced green pepper (well sort of finely. Pieces should be about 1 cm²)
1 Finely diced red onion (well sort of finely. Pieces should be about 1 cm²)
1 Pack of diced pancetta (found in deli section of most grocery stores)
1/2 Cup flour
3 Cups 1% milk (See, still healthy!)
3 Cups of cheddar and mozzeralla cheese mixed together
1 Cup of parmesan cheese
1 450 gram pack of elbow macaroni
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Ok this recipe has a lot going on until you get it in the oven so stay sharp here people. First take 2 tablespoons of the butter and grease a dutch oven with it. Next thing to do is set a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta and preheat your oven to 375f. Next preheat a pan on medium high heat and add the tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the onion and pepper in there and sauté that stuff good for about 5 minutes. Set them aside in a bowl. Wipe the pan dry with a paper towel and try to avoid burning yourself. Throw the pancetta into the dry pan and fry them until they start to get nice and crispy. Drain the fat from the pancetta and place it in the same bowl as the peppers and onions. Low fat milk AND draining fat? Healthiest dish ever.
Heat up your milk in a saucepan on a medium heat, taking care to whisk with mild trepidation occasionally so milk doesn’t stick to the bottom. Once the milk is hot set it aside and in the same saucepan (now on medium low heat) melt the rest of the butter and whisk in the flour with elation and joy. Whisk in the milk covertly and bring it all to a simmer. Remove from the heat completely, like take it off the freaking burner, don’t just turn it off. Now add 2 and a half cups of the mozzarella and cheddar and half a cup of the parmesan and stir ironically and counterclockwise until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper and throw in the onion, pepper and pancetta. Stir a little more.
Your water should be boiling by now so toss in the pasta and cook ONLY for 3 minutes! Yes, it will be undercooked but it will finish cooking in the oven so stop yelling at me. Drain the pasta and pour it into the greased dutch oven. In a bowl whisk your eggs wistfully and mix in about a cup of the cheesy cheese mixture. Once that’s blended add all that into the rest of the cheesy cheese and mix well. Yes, I get paid money every time I say whisk and mix. Now comes the sexy part, pour the cheesy cheese mix onto the noodles and mix it all well. As it goes into the oven it should look like this:
Alright so you made it through the hard part. Now let it cook in the oven for about 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven and taste a noodle or two. If you find them still really hard then cook for about another 10 minutes. Once you feel like they are just about ready set the oven to broil. Add the remaining mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan on top of the pasta. Place it under the broiler and watch it carefully. Once it is really bubbling and the cheese is starting to brown it is done!
This is a really easy recipe to change up too. Just the possibility of different cheese combinations is enough to get just about anyone excited. You can switch up the veggies that I put in or not add pancetta if you are crazy and don’t like pancetta. Oh, just imagine some nice pulled pork in there or some chopped up smoked brisket. Ya baby. You could probably make this dish a different way every time you make it.
For some extra fun try feeding this to someone who is lactose intolerant. I say this only because I am firmly against intolerance of any kind. Oh, and crack open a window.