Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What is Love: The Best Macaroni and Cheese Ever


Valentine's Day was low-key this year, but it was still enjoyable.  We didn't do much in the morning, except give Thatbaby his Valentine's Day gift.  We wanted him to have time to play with it and we knew he wouldn't after daycare.

Why wouldn't he after daycare?  Because we were headed out to dinner! 
We don't do dinner out often, but we both love it.  It's just better for our waistlines and wallets when we eat at home.  And don't get me wrong, I enjoy cooking.  It's a fantastic way to unwind after the day.

And so were the beautiful roses Thatboy brought me home last Thursday!

But it's nice to have someone else cook and do the dishes.  So we headed to our favorite neighborhood restaurant.  A place where the waitstaff dotes on Thatbaby.  And yet, with it's dim lighting and a view of the water, it still has elements of romance.

We exchanged cards and gifts -  how adorable is my new wallet?

And we sat and enjoyed each others' company and delicious food.  Thatbaby has been delightful at restaurants lately which makes things so much easier for us.

I may not have cooked for Valentine's Day, but that doesn't mean I don't have a new food love.  I read about this in last month's Bon Apetit and the idea was so ingenious, I don't know why I hadn't thought of it myself.  The recommendation was to make macaroni and cheese, saving a step by not boiling the noodles first.  I already do this with lasagna - the sauce cooks the noodles while it bakes.  So it makes perfect sense to do this with macaroni and cheese.

First of all, this is my new favorite way to make macaroni and cheese.  Second of all, this is my new favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.  It is so incredibly good.  I promise it's better than anything you've ever had.  It's better than anything I've ever had!  The noodles come out perfectly - tender with some bite.  There are loads of crunchy cheesy "edges" along the top, one of the best parts of mac and cheese.  And the sauce?  It's simple and basic - not a cheese sauce, but a sauce tossed with the noodles and cheese.  And something about that make it so much better.  Now THAT'S amore
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No-Boil Macaroni and Cheese (From Bon Apetit)
1/2 cup butter, divided
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded cheddar, divided
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup panko

1.     Preheat oven to 400. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
2.     Whisk in the flour, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until a bubbly paste forms.
3.     Whisk in milk and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, whisking often, until a very thin, glossy sauce forms, about 10 minutes.
4.     Stir in salt and pepper. Remove sauce from heat.
5.    Toss pasta and 1 1/2 cups cheese in a large baking dish. Pour sauce over, submerging pasta.  Cover and bake about 20 minutes.
6.    Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and panko, toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
7.    Uncover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and panko mixture.  Bake about 10 minutes longer, until top is golden brown. 

7 comments:

  1. I am fascinated by this "no boil" idea. I can't believe I never even thought of doing that.

    I'm totally making this.

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  2. I have heard about boiling the macaroni in the milk but not this method. I also never boil the lasagna noodles and it works out great too.

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  3. I recently tried a squash mac and cheese and didn't like it. I think this recipe sounds like it would be a better fit. I've also never tried the no boil method...I am more of a pre-boiler for my pasta casseroles/lasagnas.

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  4. This is a great shortcut and with excellent results!

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  5. That's what I do with lasagna also but I've never thought to do it with mac and cheese! Genius my dear. I made mac and cheese for V-Day...it's definitely the food of romance.

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  6. I like the way how you wrote about your valentine's day. So real and so sweet. It happens to me that having a kid has changed my life and even my lifestyle as a couple.

    I'm happy for you too that you have found YOUR mac and cheese recipe. This looks great!

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  7. Macaroni and cheese is indeed one of my all time favorite comfort foods. I have been using a Paula Deen recipe for a few years-It is rich, creamy, filled with fat and delicious. Yet, this idea of not boiling the macaroni first, is definitely a time saver, and I like the idea of the panko. I am going try this one too. Thanks for sharing.

    Velva

    P.S. I was so intrigued with the Sukkot festival in Brooklyn (an article I was reading) that it was like it was still happening.

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