Posted tagged ‘Cheese’

Raid Food: Damn Good Mac and Cheese

January 8, 2008

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Prep time: 30 Minutes
Bake time: 15 Minutes

  • 3.5 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1 Can of Low Sodium Chicken Broth (1.5 Cups)
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 6 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Pound of Colby Cheese, shredded
  • 0.5 Pound of Sharp White Cheddar, shredded
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 Pound Elbow Macaroni
  • 3 Slices Bread, Cubed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Boil your macaroni in a large pot, drain and set aside when it is cooked but still chewy. Dry the inside of the pan out and put it on low heat. Melt the butter in the pot and add the garlic, cayenne, and mustard. Stir for about 1 minute. Add the flour and stir for another minute. Add the milk and chicken broth. Continuously stir the white sauce while increasing the heat to a medium high. Continue to stir until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat.

Set aside about 1 cup of cheese. (It doesn’t matter which one. I use a mixture.) Mix the rest of the cheese into the white sauce, stirring until melted. Once melted, stir in the elbow macaroni.

Pour the mac and cheese mixture into a large baking dish. Distribute your bread evenly over the top. Sprinkle the cup of cheese you set aside over the bread. Bake for 15 minutes @ 400 degrees.

Commentary:
As a rule of thumb, any recipe that calls for cheese by the pound is not healthy and this is no exception. As such we tend to only make this once every few months, but it’s always a treat. The chicken broth is what really makes this particular recipe special. It dilutes the milk enough so that your mac and cheese doesn’t solidify in the oven while at the same time adding another dimension to the flavor. This was the first white sauce that I ever made using flour instead of corn starch, so I was a little intimidated. It turns out that the flour does a better job of thickening without adding too much work. I also love the flavor that the butter and flour mixture adds to the dish as it browns.

Beer and Cheese Pairing: Round 1

January 3, 2008

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I’ve heard that beer and cheese pairings could work better than cheese and wine. Figuring that New Year’s Eve was a good time to test this theory, I stopped by our local carry out on my way home from work to grab a few brews to match some cheese we had around the house. Here is a bonus pro tip; if your town only has one liquor store, it’s going to be crowded at 6 PM on New Year’s Eve. After an hour in line, I was ready to make my way home. Here is what we had to work with.

Beers: Goose Island 312, Stone IPA, He’Brew 11th Anniversary Brown

Wine: Semi Sweet Gewürztraminer from the Finger Lakes region of NY

Food: Apple, pear, fresh mozzarella marinated in olive oil, mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, pepper cheese curd, Havarti, and goat cheese

Mary and I didn’t follow any particular order or method to our testing. The delay at the Liquor store had left us both famished, so the initial tastings more resembled the actions of starving dogs rather than the efforts of civilized humans. Thankfully Mary’s scientific training kicked in and she took copious notes.

Top Match: He’Brew 11’th Anniversary Brown and Sharp Cheddar. The 4 year old cheddar and the hoppy, nutty brown ale worked wonderful together. The cheddar was served in a sandwich in combination with an unsalted pretzel and a thin slice of apple.

The IPA and the goat cheese also worked well together. Stone’s IPA is one of the milder beers of that style that I’ve encountered. The bitter flowery beer complimented the pungent Silver Goat brand cheese quite well.

Goose Island 312 American Wheat wasn’t bad with the Havarti or the fresh mozzarella, but a Belgium style wit might have done better. The 312 was very mild and tended to get dominated by all the cheeses that I had. It may have done better with a mozzarella that was not marinated in herbs and olive oil as even those flavors bowled the wheat over. A slice of apple with no cheese seemed to agree with this beer more than any of the other foods.

The pepper cheese curd was a bit too spicy for either beer, but the chilled Gewürztraminer provided an excellent complement. Once it warmed a touch, the Gewürztraminer also mixed very will with the olive and herb flavors in the marinated mozzarella.

In the future, I’ll not be so hungry before a tasting. We’ll also be sure to work out more of a system, starting with the milder cheeses and beers and working our way slowly towards the stronger fare. This experiment gives us a starting point for the future and hopefully we can come up with more combinations for the blog.