Saturday, January 21, 2012

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Whenever anyone ever talks about homemade mac and cheese, they always emphasize on the top of the casserole.  They love the crunch.  But me?  No I am not about the crunch at all.  I am all about the soft ooey gooey creaminess that is found underneath that crust that they all love so much.  That left me to ponder why I even make my homemade mac and cheese with a crumbly crust, as I do in my Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe.   So, I figured that since I have already satisfied the masses with that traditional recipe, that it was time to concoct one for myself.  One that is solely based on the rich velvety goodness of cheese and pasta. 

pinch of salt + 1 T. of extra virgin olive oil (for pasta water)
1/2 cup + 1 T. of unsalted butter
2 chicken flavored bouillon cubes
1 brick of cream cheese
1/4 cup of cold tap water + 2 T. of cornstarch (this is your thickening agent, a cornstarch slurry)
a good amount of sea salt
2 dashes of white pepper
3 finger pinches of light brown sugar
2 dashes of ground nutmeg
1 cup of shredded mild cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup of heavy whipping cream

-Preheat your oven to 350*.  Using some real butter, grease the bottom and sides of a large casserole dish; set aside.  Start a medium sauce pan of water for a boil for your pasta.  Once it reaches a rapid bowl, stir in a pinch of sea salt and about 1 T. of e.v.o. and then your uncooked pasta.  Boil for 5-6 minutes for Al dente; strain and set aside.  Meanwhile for your cheese sauce, melt your butter, bouillon cubes and cream cheese in a large stockpot (it makes it easier when you are folding in your pasta if you are in a deep pot) over medium heat.  In a small measuring cup, using a fork, stir together your water and cornstarch to make a slurry; pour into butter mixture.  Stir in the salt, white pepper, brown sugar, nutmeg and shredded cheeses.  Once these are pretty much melted down, add in the heavy cream and increase your heat a bit.  Keep stirring this as it is heating up, and it will begin to thicken and take on a heavy, smooth, velvety texture.  Then just fold in your strained Al dente pasta and combine well.  Transfer into your butter greased casserole dish, cover and bake at 350* for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Serves 6-8.  Enjoy!

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