Smackdown and cheese

Posted by Anita on 01.05.07 10:00 AM

(c)2007 AEC All Rights ReservedCookiecrumb over at I’m Mad and I Eat and Kev at Seriously Good have challenged one another to a , an ooey-gooey duel, a fight to the death on the field of fromage. Their chosen weapons? Bechamel, pasta… and cheese.

What is it about humble ol’ Mac & Cheese that brings out the competitive spirit in otherwise mild-mannered foodies? Last year, our old Seattle crew hosted a mac & cheese showdown, where no fewer than half a dozen recipes vied for the crown. And about a month ago, Union — one of Jet City’s top restaurants — hosted a citywide smackdown (mac-down?) that got promoted on local radio.

I’ve got a few favorite recipes in the files, including a 5-minute version that I make sometimes for breakfast, but no single concoction owns my allegiance… certainly not enough for me to want to enter it into public competition. But the eye-rollingly good version I serve to company — as a side dish, mind you — comes courtesy of our friend Wendy, the hostess with the mostest, who’s tweaked Martha Stewart’s recipe to the point of decadence.

Fondue Mac and Cheese
4T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
2 slices good white bread, grated coarsely
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. each freshly grated nutmeg, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper
1/2 pound sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
1/2 pound penne

Heat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9×9 baking dish, and set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1T butter. Pour butter into bowl with breadcrumbs, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water, and bring to a boil. Add penne, and undercook by 2 to 3 minutes, until the outside of the pasta is just cooked. Transfer macaroni to a colander and drain well, shaking the colander to remove as much water as possible from inside the penne. Set penne aside.

Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt remaining butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. While continuing to whisk, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Turn off heat, and whisk in the wine, salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and both cheeses, reserving 1 cup of cheese for topping.

Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce, then pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top, followed by the buttered breadcrumbs. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer casserole to a wire rack, and cool 5 minutes; serve hot.

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Comment by cookiecrumb

I am gob-macked. To think: macaroni and cheese *for company*!! Beauty.

Posted on 01.05.07 at 1:41PM

Comment by Anita

Well, they have to be *special* company. I won’t make something this good for just anyone. :D

Posted on 01.05.07 at 1:55PM

Comment by Tea

Mac & Cheese with WINE? Now that is awesome.

Can I be your company?

Posted on 01.05.07 at 4:25PM

Comment by Anita

Sure, Tea! Hope you don’t mind sitting on a guitar stool or an ottoman. :D

Posted on 01.05.07 at 4:27PM

Comment by Chubbypanda

A contest of one-upsmanship that I can really get behind. I love mac & cheese.

- Chubbypanda

Posted on 01.05.07 at 5:08PM

Comment by Stacie

I love the showdown! Iron Chef, mac n cheese! That recipe sounds delish!

Posted on 01.06.07 at 10:48AM

Comment by Kristen

I love how many different mac and cheese variations this little competition has showed me. Yummy!

Posted on 01.11.07 at 5:54AM

Comment by Aaron

Can you put up the 5 minute one, too? I love mac and cheese, but especially when I’m feeling extremely lazy!

Posted on 01.11.07 at 8:36AM

Comment by Anita

I guess it’s actually a 10-minute one. :)

Lazy Girl’s Mac & Cheese
1T butter
1T flour
1/2 cup milk
splash of cream or half-and-half
pinch of dry mustard
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (3oz) macaroni
1/2 cup cheese

Boil the macaroni for approximately 10 minutes, until al dente. While the mac cooks, make a white sauce with the butter, flour and dairy. Season with the mustard and salt, then add the cheese and stir until melted. When the mac is done, drain and then add to to the cheese sauce.

Posted on 01.11.07 at 8:59AM

Comment by Wendy

ahhhhhhh….that looks beautiful!!

Posted on 01.13.07 at 4:27PM

Pingback by » Baked macaroni and cheese

[...] This recipe is influenced, of course, by others: The one from The Joy of Cooking (1997 edition), Sarah Gim’s liveblog “Macaroni & Cheese from Scratch,” Married …with dinner’s “Smackdown and cheese” (Hi Anita!) [...]

Posted on 01.21.07 at 7:10PM

Comment by Anita

Hi, Jeff: Cameron loves Taleggio, but I find it too stinky for my ladylike palate. :D

But I think a ripe washed-rind cheese like ColoRouge might be nice in mac&cheese. I’ll give that a whirl next time the cheesy urge strikes.

Posted on 01.29.07 at 9:50PM

Comment by Jeff

I run a cheese store, so often get asked about Mac and Cheese recipes.

I like mixing it up with washed rind cheeses – Taleggio is a recent favorite, and then adding in something very aged and caramelly – a Noord Hollander or extra aged gouda for example.

Posted on 01.29.07 at 5:08PM

Comment by Macheesemo

I’m relatively a M&C virgin, so this recipe will prob set the bar really high.

Posted on 08.03.08 at 11:15AM

Comment by Kendrick Rucky

When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thank you!

Posted on 11.01.11 at 11:16AM

Comment by Anita

Hi Kendrick,

I think there should be an unsubscribe link in the emails you get.

Sorry I can’t help.

Posted on 11.05.11 at 2:48PM

Comment by Jeanne in Cinti

Oh! Thanks! I am going to make this tomorrow. I have made MANY mac and cheeses but really want to find a CREAMY one…I came across a post you made and linked your sight. I am looking forward to using up some of our raw milk (so not to waste it) and can’t wait to try your recipe! Thanks again!

Posted on 11.14.11 at 6:13PM

Pingback by Columbus Foodie » Blog Archive » Friday Roundup 1/5/07

[...] Pasta with Swiss Chard and Onion from dinner for one, Meyer Lemon Bites from Erin’s Kitchen, Fondue Mac and Cheese from Married…with Dinner, and Beef Bourguignon from Winter Skies, Kitchen [...]

Posted on 07.12.12 at 8:36PM

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