Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Foodie Files

So the thought occurred to me the other day...baked macaroni and cheese is so can I make it better?  My first inclination was to experiment with new cheeses so I promptly headed out to Trader Joe's and bought some brie (my favorite), fresh mozzarella (second favorite), and grana padano (to give it some bite).  This got me excited, but still left me wanting I decided to bake the macaroni in a cast iron skillet.  Why?  I have no earthly idea.  But it seemed like a fantastic idea at the time.  The final result was well received, although I'm not sure the skillet made any difference.  It kinda looked cool, however, so I wouldn't be totally opposed to doing it again.  And the the recipe is as follows...

1 lb rigatoni pasta
3 TBS butter
3 TBS flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup half & half
7 oz brie cheese
3 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
3 TBS grated grana padano cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, then lightly salt a pot of water and set on high heat.  When the water reaches a boil, toss in your pasta.  Stir occasionally and drain when the pasta's texture is al dente (firm but not hard- usually about 9 minutes for rigatoni).  I was fortunate enough to have the world's most adorable sous chef help me with this portion of the meal :).

Start the sauce by melting butter in a saucepan over medium low heat.  Whisk flour into the butter to make a roux (fancy name for a thickening mixture that's equal parts butter, equal parts flour).

Add milk and half and half to the roux and whisk until your mixture is smooth, then add brie, fresh mozzarella, grana padano and 1 cup of the grated mozzarella cheese.  Continue whisking until your sauce is once again smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix your pasta with the cheese sauce and place in a cast iron skillet, then cover with the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes, then- without removing the skillet- set the oven on high broil.  When the top layer of cheese turns a light crispy brown (approximately 3 minutes), you're done!


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