Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mozzarella Macaroni and Cheese For Two

Threw this together the other night based on a recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I love mac and cheese but most recipes (including Mark's) are too big for two people, and cheddar is a lot more fattening than mozzarella. I'm pretty sure that the proportions below of butter-milk-flour are not ideal, but it still came out delicious. Fiddle around with the sauce a little if you like, but this works pretty well as is. This recipe took 45 min or so and made two large (adult) servings.

1 Cup grated Mozzarella
1/4 Cup shredded Parmesan
1/4 Cup shredded Romano
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Bay Leaf
2 Cups Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta
Spoonful of flour (regular dining spoon)
1 Tablespoon butter
Breadcrumbs (Italian seasoned)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the pasta water in a pot with a little salt. Cook the pasta as advised on the box.

While the pasta is progressing, put the milk in a small saucepan with the bay leaf and turn on medium low. Cook it until small bubbles start to form where the milk touches the metal. When you tip the pan the bubbles will stick to the pan underneath. there shouldn't be any steam or boiling.

Remove the milk from heat and transfer to a small bowl or Pyrex measuring pitcher. Take out the bay leaf and discard.

Manage the pasta as necessary now - it may be al dente at this point. If it is, drain it, cool it off with some cold water and pour it into a baking dish.

Tricky Part: Get a small wire whisk in one hand and get your flour ready. Set the milk nearby. Melt the butter in the saucepan over medium low until foamy, then drop the flour into the melted butter and quickly stir it with the whisk until smooth. As soon as the flour/butter mixture browns add a little of the milk, stir until smooth and pasty, then add more milk. Repeat until all the milk is gone.

Add the cheese and stir until melted and smooth. (Mark Bittman's recipe has you separate the cheeses - I didn't and it worked out fine) Pour the sauce over your pasta, and mix it in. Top with a little more Parmesan and a thin layer of breadcrumbs.

Put the mac and cheese in the oven for 15 minutes and enjoy!

Some ideas you might want to try:

Blue Mac and Cheese - top with blue cheese crumbles instead of shredded Parmesan. it won't take much to have a big impact on the flavor.

Apple Gruyère - omit the Parmesan and Romano, replace with Gruyère. Thinly slice 1/4 of a Granny Smith apple and cut into smaller pieces. Sprinkle on top with the breadcrumbs before placing in the oven.

Other Mix-ins: jalapeños, bacon, pimentos, white onion

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