Monday, May 2, 2011

Max and Cheese

I tried to do a play on words there - I may be the only one who thinks it's cute. I'll take that risk, it is my blog. As mentioned in my before post, Max Man took it upon himself to cook us dinner Sunday night. This recipe slightly compromises the posts I try for because it is just in no way, shape or form what any person would consider "healthy". Unless they are from the land of dairy - oh wait, Max is - so this is just perfect.

If you are looking for a really good mac and cheese, without caring where it will all end up (potentially as an additional dimple on your thigh), Max and Cheese is your version! Just kidding... kinda. I was in and out of sleep on the couch as he cooked dinner, but when I was awake, I tried to snap pictures. I couldn't help but laugh as I noticed the difference between his cooking style and mine; Max Man measures out everything, he is so precise, the "baker-style" cook, total left brain driven. It made me smile, and I'd fall asleep again. 

Grocery List:
  • Salt
  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Start by pre-heating oven to 400 degrees then lightly grease a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large pot, fill with water and salt well, then bring to a boil. Add the macaroni noodles and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

The recipe called for use of a double boiler to heat and melt the cheeses. We did not have a double boiler so Max Man improvised and used a metal bowl that fit perfectly into a pot, leaving plenty of room to boil about 2 inches of water in. Heat this over medium-high heat. Combine the cheddar, 1 cup of Parmesan, Gruyere and cream cheese in the mixing bowl sitting atop the sauce pan. Once the cheeses start to melt, add the cream and stir gently; about 10 minutes total. Once all melted and blended, remove from the heat but keep warm.

Pour the heated water out of the saucepan, then add the butter and melt that over medium heat. Add the garlic and the shallots, cooking for 2 minutes until softened. Add the reserved pasta cooking water over the macaroni noodles in the colander, to help loosen it. Let drain again, then add the noodles to the sauce pan, stirring to coat with butter. Add the cheese sauce and stir well to incorporate it. Look, so creamy!

Season with salt and pepper - then I also added my favorite, Tony's Creole. Transfer to the casserole dish. In a small bowl, add the remaining 1/2 cup Parm and the breadcrumbs, using fingers to mix together.

Sprinkle mixture over the pasta and bake uncovered for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

This was a delicious dish, I'm very thankful to have a Mr. Max to step in when I'm feeling down. He did a great job, I should start letting him take over a little more! Served with a simple beef tenderloin fillet, marinated with Whole Food's Theo's Steakhouse Marinade, and a mixed greens salad.

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