In her seminal cookbook, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1918), Fannie Farmer proclaimed, “Macaroni is valuable food, as it is very cheap and nutritious; but being deficient in fat, it should be combined with cream, butter, or cheese, to make a perfect food.” Thus proclaimed, macaroni mixed with cheese and cream became a staple on American family tables.
These days, macaroni and cheese is seen mostly as a dish for the elementary school crowd, but some cooks have started reclaiming this standard of comfort food by going well beyond the familiar blue box. It’s seen on menus at gourmet restaurants with chunks of lobster, finished with a drizzle of truffle oil. That’s going a little beyond the pale for us home cooks, but we can dress up the old favorite without too much fuss.
Here is a sophisticated version from Linda Sanderson Moore, who gave us all those great blue-ribbon tips back in the August issue. She says, “My family loves this recipe because it tastes like fondue. The sauce is creamy and flavorful, and the dressing mixture on the top makes it a little crunchy.” She and her family are members of South Plains Electric Cooperative.
Moore Mac ’N’ Cheese
8 ounces macaroni
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (divided), plus more for cooking pasta
3 1/2 tablespoons butter (divided)
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
7 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
3 ounces aged Gouda cheese, grated
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon each cayenne and nutmeg
1/2 cup packaged dry herbed dressing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions in well-salted water until tender to the bite. Drain, but do not rinse.
In large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add shallots and cook until light golden, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle shallot-butter mixture with flour; cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Add wine and stir, picking up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add cream and stir well.
Sprinkle in cheeses, one large handful at a time, stirring until each handful is mostly melted before adding the next. Stir in 2 tablespoons chives, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cayenne and nutmeg. Stir cooked pasta into cheese mixture and pour all into a 2-quart greased baking dish.
Combine dry dressing with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon chives and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle mixture over top of casserole and bake until top is browned and cheese is bubbling, about 15–20 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
Serving size: 1 large serving spoonful. Per serving: 454 calories, 16 g protein, 24 g fat, 36 g carbohydrates, 601 mg sodium, 80 mg cholesterol