Monday, January 11, 2010

Mac & Cheese! Mac & Cheese!

Mac&Cheese The frigid weather we've been having in New England (and across the rest of the country!) has created in me a deep seated need for comfort food.

I keep telling Hubby we should make some beef stew, but then I forget to get the ingredients.

So I wasn't surprised when we were wandering through a book store yesterday and I was riveted by the yummy looking mac and cheese on the cover of the current (Feb/March) issue of Fine Cooking. Now, I admit it, when I want mac & cheese I open a box. Mainly for the convenience. But also because when I was living in Texas I made a great baked mac & cheese by cobbling together elements from two or three recipes. Only I didn't write down what I did so I haven't been able to reproduce it.

It's like making a great pair of socks, giving them to an out of state friend, then being unable to replicate them for yourself. Sure, if you could get the socks back you could count stitches, etc., but basically they are lost.

Quick & Easy
Of course, I've been told my lazy box route is unnecessary. Back when I was taking the train a woman on the shuttle bus was so appalled I used a box she told me her mac & cheese recipe. Right there, on the bus! Only I didn't write it down.

When I saw the magazine cover I suggested to Hubby we make it for dinner. It was even in the 30-minute meal section, which increased its attractiveness.

Well, technically the one on the cover had pulled pork in it and the first step is to cook the pork for 5 hours, which totally wasn't going to happen. Since he wanted a protein of some sort Hubby grilled chicken.

The recipe uses Emmentaler and Gruyere, which are not cheeses we keep laying around. No, we're more of a cheddar and parm family. I realized Hubby was taking a route home that wouldn't take us past the grocery store. He said he thought the recipe was nixed since we weren't near the fancy grocery stores. But I had faith in Stop & Shop and I was right!

The recipe went together very quickly and easily. So quickly, in fact, that I ended up having to wait around for Hubby to finish the chicken. He sliced it and mixed it in, then I sprinkled the top and stuck it under the broiler to brown.

The only changes I made were to use skim milk instead of 2% and to add a wee bit of breadcrumbs to the top to increase the crunch factor.

For such a quick dish it was very yummy and flavorful. After we each took our first bite we nodded sagely at each other, which is our shorthand for "This dish is a keeper."

Since it's mainly a casserole style it will be added to my list of recipes to use when Hubby doesn't feel like cooking.

I would like to tell you we had a nice green salad, or sauteed broccoli, or even just peas with our yummy chicken mac & cheese, but that would be a lie. We looked at each other and said, "Why clutter our comfort food with that healthy stuff?"

It was also very filling. I didn't finish my serving.

One thing I like about trying a new recipe is that I get to pull out all my cooking gadgets. I premeasured ingredients into my little glass mixing bowls, I got to use the grater plate on my Cuisinart for the cheese, and of course my Calphalon pan could go right in the oven to broil the top.

Really, if you don't make an awful mess when you cook, have you had any fun?

Day Two
Since the recipe serves four we have plenty of leftovers. I have some for lunch today and did make a green salad this time. It reheated very nicely in the office toaster oven. I packed it in a wee foil bread pan I used for the date nut bread at Thanksgiving and was able to heat it up without fuss.

It is just as yummy today. In fact, whose brilliant idea was this stupid salad?

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