Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Baked Mac and Cheese

I've actually never made mac and cheese from scratch before, only assisted others and made alfredo sauce. I decided I was up for the challenge last night and wanted to put my spicy twist on it (which came out very delicious)! I'd say it was the perfect comfort food for a chilly February night, but El Nino decided it would be 52 degrees out yesterday up here in Boston.

Baked Mac and Cheese

Ingredients (Serves 6-8):
1 lb. pasta of choice (I used cavatappi, macaroni would have worked well too)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbl butter, separated
1 cup light cream
1 1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (Cabot is my favorite)
1/2 cup shredded aged gouda (I used Rembrandt and it's amazing)
1/2 cup shredded gruyere
1/2 cup Romano or parmesan cheese
1tsp dried mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the pasta al dente according to instructions on the package.

In a deep sauce pan, melt 1/4 cup of butter. When the butter starts to bubble and turn golden, add your spices and whisk until well mixed. Add the flour once they are. Add the milk, cream, and cheese, and stir until the cheese sauce is smooth and to your desired thickness.

Empty a package of Ritz crackers into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, bottle of wine, or your hands, crush the crackers until they are very fine and resemble breadcrumbs. Melt 2 Tbl of butter, add to the bag, and mix well.

Once your pasta is drained, add the cheese sauce into the large pasta pot (for less mess) and mix well. Pour into a lightly greased (with cooking spray) casserole dish and top with the Ritz crackers.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. If you want the crust to be extra crispy, broil for 2 additional minutes.

I served my mac and cheese with roasted broccoli and some cabernet sauvignon!

Enjoy :)