This week, we revived the tradition with Baked Mac’n’Cheese and The American, starring George Clooney. I got the general recipe for the baked mac’n’cheese from Cooking For Engineer, but made some modifications based on what I had on hand and the taste that I was going for. But, basically, you take a basic bechamel sauce, add a mixture of shredded cheese, mix in your cooked macaroni, top with a breadcrumb mixture and bake in the oven until bubbly, brown, and crispy. I went with mostly Monterrey Jack, but also went a little nuts on cheese from Whole Foods…. used a little Young Emmi Gruyere and Unie Kaas Robusto in the cheese mixture (I was also looking for Fontina, but couldn’t find any at Whole Foods) and topped it off with Reggianito from Argentina with the bread crumbs. We also added some Apple Honey Smoked Bacon that was DELICIOUS!!! I made sure to have cheese leftover for nibbling (and some future recipes). I used the nutmeg and mustard that was called for in the recipe, but not really sure if it did anything for the dish. I think next time I’ll go with some smoked paprika or cayenne instead (we omitted the hot sauce since we couldnt’ find any at Minh’s house). We also ran out of butter, so were unable to mix the breadcrumb mixture with butter for that reallly crunchy top, but it didn’t hurt the dish.
Adapted from Cooking for Engineers
4 T unsalted butter
4 T AP flour
3 12-oz cans of evaporated milk
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t ground mustard
salt and pepper
12 oz shredded Monterey Jack
1/2 cup(ish) shredded gruyere (or other cheese of your choice)
1/2 cup(ish) shredded Unie Kaas Robusto (or other cheese of your choice)
1 lb elbow macaroni (or other shaped pasta)
2/3 lb (or more) bacon (we used Apple Honey Smoked)
grated Reggianito (or parmesan)
1/2 c breadcrumbs
Step by Step
- Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, brown bacon. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate, then coarsely chop.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat until foaming. Add flour and stir until well mixed.
- Slowly add evaporated milk , stirring or whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
- Add seasoning. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the bechamel sauce has thickened (coats back of spoon).
- Remove from heat. Stir in your shredded cheese and stir until melted.
- Add pasta and bacon. Stir until well coated.
- Transfer pasta-cheese mixture into a baking dish (1 9×13 or 2 7×11). Top with grated Reggianito (or parmesan) and breadcrumbs.
- Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
We made ours in two 7×11 baking dishes since it was only the two of us eating (and we weren’t going to get anywhere close to finishing a 9×13 baking dish). So we only baked 1 and saved the other for a later time (dinner with Michele on Friday). To help it keep better, we didn’t add the bacon until we transferred the mixture into the baking dish, and then we only added the bacon to one dish (saved the extra bacon on the side for the other). On the spare, we left the breadcrumb topping off, since this should be added right before baking… just cover and let cool before sticking in the fridge (or freezer).
The whole thing was delicious and creamy. It had a light flavor since it was mostly Monterey Jack cheese, but felt very heavy because of the creamy sauce. The bacon added a salty, sweet crunch that was very pleasant. Next time, I think I’ll add more fo the Robusto to give it a little more flavor.