I’m a sucker for good Mac ‘n’ Cheese. It is so easy to make at home but for some reason, people either don’t make it at all or they make it poorly. I think that people often go overboard with the fat in their Mac ‘n’ Cheese, thinking that much more will be much better, but usually much more fat just equals much more fat. So I use just enough butter to make the roux and give great flavor, and then I substitute pasta water for half of the milk or cream. It all comes out the same in the end and you can feel a heck of a lot better about eating mine than you would Aunt Whoevers’.
But let’s be clear- I’m not a snob about Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I mean, I’m not entirely opposed to processed, American cheeses in mine, but I think you also need some other cheeses to balance out that somewhat flat flavor. I think you need to make it with cheeses that have each of the following criteria: an easy melting ability, a creaminess and a tanginess. Sometimes I use cream cheese for the ‘creamy’, extra sharp cheddar for the ‘tang’ and provolone for the ‘melty’ but this recipe only uses 2 cheeses and still manages to get all the work done. The added bonus is that the cheeses I chose are naturally lower in fat than most. Can I get an Amen for that one, sisters?
*MACARONI AND GOAT CHEESE
-Boil a large pot of heavily salted water and add 6 ounces of whole wheat, short-cut pasta. Cook to just before al dente and make sure you reserve the pasta water while you…
-Melt 2 TB of unsalted butter in a medium saucepan. Add 2 rounded TB of flour and whisk until there are no lumps. Allow the mixture to bubble a bit on medium heat.
-Add a tsp or so of Dijon mustard and several good gratings of fresh nutmeg. Season with a pinch of salt and white pepper.
-Slowly whisk in a ladle-ful of your salted pasta water, then pour in some milk* or stock of some kind while you whisk. Keep alternating pasta water and milk/stock until you get a creamy, thickened sauce, (about the consistency of heavy cream but maybe a little thicker).
-Add in 4 ounces of grated Edam cheese. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir until the cheese is almost melted. Add 4 ounces of Chevre goat cheese. Stir until both cheeses are fully melted.
-Add your drained pasta and stir until all the pasta is coated in the sauce. Pour into a greased 8in baking dish and top with plain breadcrumbs. Dot with butter if you’d like, or give it a lazy spritz of some cooking spray. Bake at 350* until the top gets golden brown.
(*note-I always use canned, evaporated whole milk because I can keep it in my pantry until I need it)
We ate our Mac ‘n’ Goat Cheese tonight with Baby Back Ribs and Roasted Green Beans. The ribs were basted with a Balsamic Barbecue Sauce at the end of their cooking. It was a great meal. It took a casual, summer barbecue favorite to a much more sophisticated level.
*BALSAMIC BARBECUE SAUCE
-1 TB of minced garlic
-1 TB of of minced onion
(powdered form of both also works)
-3/4 cup ketchup
-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/3 cup honey
-1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
-1/4 cup prepared coffee or espresso
(I always keep good quality instant espresso on hand for recipes)
-2 TB sugar
-pinch of salt
–Throw everything in a small pot and bring to a bubble. Stir to incorporate and simmer until it thickens and reduces by about a third. Check for seasoning.