Friday, February 27, 2009

Mac & Cheese: All the cheesy details

I previously posted on Facebook and here about a four cheese mac & cheese by Pithy & Cleaver. Well, last night I made this delectable and sinful comfort food. It took a while to prep my mise en place - I won't be winning any timed Top Chef-style challenges, that's for sure - but once everything was set in little prep bowls, the cooking didn't take too long and went smoothly.

The P&C recipe was easy enough to follow, but I found it needed some proofreading (a couple ingredients weren't mentioned in the step-by-step instructions) and additional cooking details. Overall, it was a complete, straightforward recipe which ended in a delicious result. I neglected to take a photo of my result, but let me describe it - dense, noodle-y, saucy, cheesy, crumbly crisp topping, and steamin' hot. I also have *a lot* of leftovers since it makes enough to feed about eight. Or two college football players.

During the cooking process, I began to get a little worried that everything would fit in my skillet. The recipe says to use a "large skillet." I was using my 12-inch All-Clad, which is the largest one I have. Everything is done in the skillet. It's really a one-skillet recipe if you don't count the boiling of the pasta in another pot. The final step in the cooking process is to add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce in the skillet. Um, my cheese sauce was already flirting with the edge of the pan, and I didn't think it could hold a pound of cooked celentani. The suspense was killing me! I took the dare laid down by P&C, and poured the pasta in. All the pasta fit! Ta da! It was like a little magic pan, that All-Clad. I very carefully folded the pasta with the cheese until everything was coated.

I did need Steve's help when it came to pouring the luscious, gooey mix into the baking pan as I needed two hands covered in hot pads to lift the skillet. Steve scraped the innards out into the dish while I tipped them in. [Side note: I had an afterthought once the mac & cheese was baking - did I need to put it in the baking dish at all? My skillet can go directly in the oven. Anyone know if baking mac & cheese in an All-Clad skillet changes baking time, sticking-to-the-pan factor, etc? If it doesn't need to go in the baking dish, then this is one step closer to being a one skillet dish. Of course, the leftovers would still need to be transferred to something, and my leftovers are still in the baking dish, for which I have a snap on lid.]

After 20 minutes in the oven, the topping was golden brown and the sauce was bubbling. I dished it up right away and we dug in. Yum, yum, yum. This is not an every day or every week mac & cheese. It's far to full of fat and cholesterol to make often.

Good thing this mac & cheese was good since we now get to eat it all weekend. Except for Saturday night when Steve and I are dining with other members of TNTE club at Buttermilk Channel. Looking forward to some chicken and waffles!

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