Monday, April 4, 2011

COOK’S COUNTRY MACARONI AND CHEESE

CI best mac n cheese
Some of my best recipes have come from America’s Test Kitchen, including this one.  This baked mac and cheese is creamy, sturdy and rich, even when you change some of the ingredients.
CI best mac n cheese (2) 
Cook’s Country uses evaporated milk; I used 2% fresh.  They use elbow macaroni; I used medium shells.  Instead of American and Monterey Jack cheeses, I used Gruyere and Gouda.  The ratios and flavorings were kept the same, and the results were outstanding. 
CI best mac n cheese (3)
The original recipe was intended as a potluck macaroni and cheese and made an amount suitable for a 9x13 pan.  I scaled the recipe down for a smaller family, to yield 4-6 servings.  This one will be in my regular rotation.  It’s definitely a keeper – nice flavors, crispy cheesy topping, creamy cheesy insides. 
Cook’s Country Macaroni and Cheese (1-1/2-Quart Recipe)
Adapted from Cook’s Country TV
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
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INGREDIENTS:  1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into large pieces
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp. finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 quarts water
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1-1/2 cups (about 1/4 lb.) uncooked medium shell pasta
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tsps. white whole wheat flour (Cook’s Country uses all-purpose flour)
1-1/8 cups 2% milk
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
big pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup shredded Gouda cheese
1/3 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

In work bowl of food processor, pulse bread to coarse crumbs.  Add 1 Tbsp. melted butter and Parmesan cheese and pulse till well combined and crumbs are uniform.  Set aside.

In 3-quart heavy pot, bring 2 quarts of water and 3/4 tsp. salt to a boil.  Add pasta and cook to al dente, about 6 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain and rinse pasta under cold water. 

Return empty pot to stove and melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium heat.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, till mixture turns light brown, about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in milk, hot sauce, nutmeg, mustard, pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Cook till slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.  Off heat.  Whisk in cheeses and 2 Tbsp. reserved pasta water till cheese melts.  Stir in pasta. 

Pour into greased 1-1/2 quart oven-proof baking dish.  Top with bread crumb mixture.  Bake till cheese is bubbling around edges and top is golden brown, 20-25 minutes.  Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

5 comments:

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

I do love a good mac and cheese! Thank you for sharing this version! Blessings ~ Tanna

Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean said...

i've been looking for a good mac and cheese recipe. this looks great! and not terribly unhealthy!

teresa said...

ATK really is great isn't it! everything i make from their books is always fantastic. this looks wonderful!

The Food Hound said...

Yes, America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Country, etc, always have great recipes!! I've never made anything that wasn't fabulous from one of their sources!

Barbara Bakes said...

It looks so creamy and delicious! I'd love to have this on a regular basis too.