Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese

For a long time, I didn't like macaroni and cheese.

I know.

I can't believe it either. I don't like things that are texturally the same. I have a similar issue with risotto. I get bored, then I start to actively dislike it, and before you know it, I've maligned two perfectly good dishes because I'm an oddball.


Once I started cooking more regularly, though, I realized that I could tweak recipes and make thing however I wanted. Substitute this for that. Take out things I dislike and add things I do like. And that? That is why macaroni and cheese will forever be on my list of perfect foods.

This recipe originally came from my grandma, who introduced me to the idea that macaroni and cheese didn't have to come from a box. For that, I will be forever grateful. I took the recipe and tweaked it, because I'm contrary and like mushrooms.
Did I lose you? Sorry. I got sidetracked.

This macaroni and cheese has sauteed mushrooms and onions that add a depth of flavor and deliciousness. It also has bacon, because I seem to be a on a bit of a bacon kick lately. Make of that what you will.

Before the oven:

After the oven:

Macaroni and Cheese
1 t olive oil
1/2 c onion, chopped
1/2 c crimini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 c shitaki mushrooms, chopped
1 glove garlic, minced
1 t paprika
2 T flour
3/4 c whole milk
1/2 c monterrey jack cheese, grated
1/2 c mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 c parmesan cheese, grated
spiral pasta

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.
  3. Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat, adding the oil when the pan is slightly warm. Add the onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Slide the mushrooms and paprika into the pot and cook until softened, 10 minutes. Add the garlic and heat until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and mushroom mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour is slightly browned, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Pour the milk into the pan, scraping the bottom well, and add the cheese. Stir to combine and allow the milk to heat through. The mixture will thicken.
  6. Scrape down the sides (if you're baking the macaroni and cheese in a different pan, transfer it now) and sprinkle the top with Parmesan. Move the pan to the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes until the top is browned and slightly bubbly around the edges.
  7. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then serve and enjoy.

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