Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mac and Cheese

I rarely make these types of heavy, cheesy dishes, but I was in the mood for mac and cheese after recently seeing an episode of The Barefoot Contessa on Food Network.

This mac and cheese tasted amazing. Because of the heaviness of this dish, though, I was only able to eat 1 serving out of the 8 servings the Barefoot recipe made. I followed Ina Garten's recipe, as written, except I used less salt (1 teaspoon) and topped the mac and cheese with panko flakes, rather than bread crumbs, before baking, for a really crispy outer layer.

As I mentioned this past Saturday, my goal this week is keep track of how much I spend on ingredients (excluding the cost of basic pantry staples).
The total cost of the ingredients for the mac and cheese (8 servings) came to $24.41. I had to buy the elbow macaroni ($1.20), tomatoes ($3.99), Gruyere cheese ($9.45), cheddar cheese ($4.79), and milk ($1.39). I included the cost of the panko ($3.59), even though I already had it and consider it to be a pantry staple.

I made a simple side salad (4 servings) with fresh (as opposed to bagged) green lettuce ($2.99) and 1 avocado ($1.29) drizzled with a dressing made from olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Mac and Cheese
kes approximately 8 servings

1 pound elbow macaroni
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups grated Gruyere cheese
2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small), sliced
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko flakes)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta in a colander. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the pasta and toss to prevent it from sticking. Set the pasta aside.

In a small pot, heat the milk over medium heat. Do not bring to a boil. While the milk is heating up, melt 6 tablespoons of butter in larger pot over low heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour to this pot and whisk until the flour and butter are combined, about 1 minute. Add the hot milk to this pot and continue whisking until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese, nutmeg, ground pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir in the pasta and pour into a 9-by13-inch baking dish.

Layer the top of the mac and cheese with the sliced tomatoes. Toss the bread crumbs (or panko flakes) in 2 tablespoons of melted butter and spread them over the layer of tomatoes.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the bread crumb topping has turned golden brown, and serve.

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