Friday, October 28, 2011

Fancy Restaurant Mac and Cheese

When this weather starts cooling off, my body demands comfort food.  That includes most of my favorite foods, but nothing tops it for me quite like mac and cheese.  Made from scratch, of course!

Here's my super easy way to make mac and cheese like it's from a fancy restaurant (a spin off of carbonara).  Once you get your sauce base, you can pretty much vary it any way you like, but I made this batch with bacon, cheddar and green chilies.

All you need is:
-pasta (I like orechiette or penne)
-whatever cheese you like (cheddar is my fave)
-half and half (or cream for the fearless)
-green chilies

1.  Make your pasta.  Strain.  You know the drill.

2. While pasta is cooking, cook half a package of bacon.  I prefer dicing it up first so it cooks faster.  When it is 75% close to finished, add a clove or two of sliced garlic.  It will cook fast!  If the bacon is very fatty, drain off excess, but most bacon should be just fine.

3.  Pour 1 1/2 cups of half and half over the hot pan.  The heat from the bacon makes this sauce very quick.  Start adding in half of the cheese, stirring constantly.  I start with a cup of shredded cheese per pound of pasta, but you can always use more.  Just don't use less or it will insult the dish.

4.  Add your pasta, the rest of the cheese, and any extra little bits you might like.  In this case, I added a can of roasted green chilies, but if you use raw veggies, add them in with the garlic while you cook the bacon.  Turn off heat and mix well, so each bite of pasta is coated in saucy goodness.

5.  Top with crumbled crackers or toasted breadcrumbs and freshly ground black pepper.

Other winning combinations:
-chevre and roasted red pepper
-mushrooms, caramelized onions and Fontina
-smoked gouda and Italian sausage (add a little mild cheese to help the gouda melt)
-parmesan, tomato and basil
-ham and swiss

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