Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Four Cheese Macaroni

Do I still have any readers out there? If so, hello! In any case, I just made up my own recipe! With inspiration from a few others. And it turned out pretty FAB. And it was still daylight when it was done cooking, so I was able to snap a few good pics of tonight's dinner to share with you :)

I had lunch with a few classmates (over the course of my "vacation" I completed the esthetics program at Jean Madeline, and well, I took an actual vacation, too!) to celebrate the end of our course. Living in Philadelphia is quite dandy for being a foodie. And Jean Madeline being in South Philly was quite dandy for trying the food at Bridget Foy's. There was one item on the menu a few of us were drawn to, that being the Mac and Cheese made with a four cheese bechamel with a potato chip crust. Sounded pretty amazing, until one of the waitresses said it wasn't her fave thing on the menu, so I changed my mind and ordered the burger (which was pretty freaking awesome). My friend, Maria, asked for an appetizer portion anyway and let us all try it. And after that I was kinda kicking myself in the ass for having doubted the mac and cheese.

Then I saw Stephanie blogged a mac and cheese with mascarpone and mozzarella and I was INSPIRED. I starred that recipe for reference later on and so today was finally the day to put my own spin on it. I was inspired by her use of mascarpone. I've only ever encountered it in tiramisu (one of my fave desserts of all time). Her recipe reminded me of the cheesy heaven I had at Bridget Foy's. So I started doing some research.

I saw Stephanie tweaked her recipe from a Cooking Light recipe which originally called for fontina. That was also intriguing. Then I read a review from somebody who didn't like the "stinky" smell of the fontina. Which then reminded me of how disappointed I was in a risotto once when I used parmagianno romano (to me, a "stinky" cheese). Then I read that gruyere was a good substitute for fontina, which I was familiar with after using it in a fondue once. So then I googled "four cheese mac and cheese" to try to find a good basis to start with. I found this one from Emeril and took a few bits and pieces from him as well. And here is the recipe I ended up, which was, AMAZING, and incredibly easy!

Source: me, inspired by Stephanie, Cooking Light, Bridget Foy's & Emeril

1 pound pasta (I used Barilla Pipette because I thought the shape was fun)
4 Tbsp salted butter
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used 2% only because my store was out of 1/2 gallons of 1%)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
5 good shakes of Tabasco sauce
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (yes, from the plastic jar)
4 oz gruyere cheese, grated
4 oz mascarpone cheese
8 oz extra sharp cheddar, grated
2-3 large handfuls of Lay's lightly salted potato chips, crushed (just eyeball it)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile...
3. Melt butter in skillet over low heat. Whisk in flour and continue stirring over low heat for 3 minutes.
4. Gradually whisk milk into flour mixture, stirring continuously over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat.
5. Stir in salt, pepper, tabasco and the parmesan, gruyere and mascarpone cheeses until melted. Stir in a small handful of the sharp cheddar, reserving the rest.
6. Drain pasta. Return hot pasta to pot. Pour bechamel over hot pasta. Stir to coat.
7. Spray a 9x13 dish with nonstick cooking spray.
8. Layer 1/3 of cheesy pasta into bottom of dish. Layer 1/2 of the remaining sharp cheddar. Layer the second 1/3 of cheesy pasta. Top with remaining sharp cheddar. Top with crushed potato chips.
9. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

This really was one of the greatest dishes I've ever made. I'm pretty proud of it. I have a track record of screwing up my mother-in-law's macaroni and cheese recipe so I'm beyond thrilled to have come up with my own mac and cheese recipe that I'll continue to make through the years and hopefully pass on to my potential children and their potential families.

One change I will TRY next time is to stir in ALL of the cheeses, including the sharp cheese, so that the bechamel has that melty, stringy texture, assemble the dish, and broil it for a few minutes for the top to get golden. The only thing I noticed was that the melty, stringiness went away after the bechamel was baked into the pasta. So I think I'll try it this way next time and decide which method I like better then.


Lady Hatch said...

I'm still here! Welcome back. Looks delicious!!!


Ashlee said...

That looks absolutely delicious! Congrats on graduating :)

Natalie said...

Welcome back! Don't you love making up a dish and having it turn out fabulous? That's the best! This mac and cheese looks great!

Anonymous said...

I'm still here. . . and I just mentioned your blog in a post of mine! :)