Monday, May 28, 2012

Mac 'N Cheese, Please!

To all my readers, I have been absent from my writing for over a month, and to apologize I have one of the simplest, yummiest, All-American foods for you! Today, being Memorial Day, many of us gather together to celebrate and remember the men and women who risked their lives for The United States of America. We celebrate the holiday with parades dedicated to our troops, moments of silence, The National Anthem and then many of us come together for an All-American feast of hot dogs and hamburgers smothered in Heinz Ketchup, pasta and fruit salads, apple pies, and so much more.

Almost every year, at any U.S. holiday, whether it be Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or Labor Day, someone always brings Mac 'N Cheese. A childhood favorite for most, it has become a posh and high end side dish at many famous restaurants, especially when made with gourmet cheeses. Restaurants in New York City such as Blue Smoke ($8), DuMont ($15), and in Chicago, Rockit Bar and Grill ($15), Wilde ($14), just to name a few, have top-rated Mac 'N Cheese! So here's a simple, basic recipe to get you started on creating your own 5 Star Mac 'N Cheese.

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Makes 1-2 servings

2 cups of pasta (shell, corkscrew, elbow, penne, etc)
2 Tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons of flour
pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup of milk (I used 1%)
1-2 cups of grated cheese*

Start by cooking the pasta as directed on the box. The cheese sauce will take about 4 minutes to make, so plan accordingly. You can also cook up the pasta first, drain it, and then start the roux. To start the roux, melt the butter in a sauce pan on medium heat. Add the flour and stir until it becomes pasty. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Then add the milk. Continue to stir so it thickens but does not scald. (Having the butter and flour should prevent it from doing so, but I always like to take precautions). Once it has completely mixed together and thickened up a bit, add the cheese. Again, stir until smooth. The result should be a medium thick sauce that is easy to pour but sticks to a spoon when dipped in. Add more milk or cheese if you need or choose. Always taste it before continuing! Add the pasta and mix. This is your basic mac and cheese. If you wish t to give it a browned top, place the mac 'n cheese in a casserole dish, and either throw it in the an oven at 400˙ for 10 minutes, or place it under a broiler for a minute or two. Add crunch by mixing 1/4 cups of bread crumbs with some extra grated cheese, placing it on top, and broiling/baking it. Serve immediately. 

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Feeling adventurous? Try browning some onions or garlic, and adding it to the roux. Or create your own twist on the dish with meats or vegetables. Be confident and conquer the kitchen! Happy Eating, and Enjoy!

*Good cheeses to use: Cheddar (Sharp, mild, white, yellow), Pepper or Monterey Jack, Swiss Gruy√®re, Gouda

*©ApronStringstoDiamondRings All Rights Reserved 

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