There’s a really neat blogging group that got started on the cooking board I frequent called Barefoot Bloggers. This fabulous group was started by Tara over at Smells Like Home and she had the great idea to gather up a group to cook and bake their way through Ina Garten’s books. What an awesome concept!
I’m not a part of this group because I’ve got a picky eater at home and I’m sure it wouldn’t take long for a recipe to appear that he would have no part of. Sigh…. Makes me slightly sad because I love Ina! I do enjoy seeing what the groups makes each month though!
A recent recipe chosen for this group was Ina’s Grown Up Mac and Cheese. When the blog updates started appearing with this recipe on the board it reminded me that I had made it once before in my pre-blogging days and we loved, loved, LOVED it! I immediately decided I had to make it again.
Now, mac and cheese…what to say about it, really. For most of my life, homemade mac and cheese suffered the same fate has homemade pizza. It was more often then not so completely inedible that I wouldn’t go near it. The problems with it always seemed to be the same…it’d be dry. Or grainy. Or bland. Or mushy. Ugh. Mushy is the worst. Mad horrible flashbacks of college dorm dining hall fare right there. Yuck. But, like I said in my pizza post, I’m sincerely trying to make an effort to try things in my own kitchen that I haven’t cared for in the past. The first time I made this was probably this past winter sometime and it was a stretch for me, I was so afraid I wouldn’t like it!
Turns out…I loved it! So did Eric. I’m happy to have made it again so it could have a place in my blog. It’s really very delicious. So big thanks to all the Barefoot Bloggers out there for reminding me to make this again!
GROWN UP MAC AND CHEESE (Recipe Source: Ina Garten – Foodnetwork.com)
- 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
- Vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi (I used a corkscrew shape…not rotini…but the other one! LOL!)
- 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1% and it worked surprisingly well!)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
- 3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
- 2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled (I don’t care for blue cheese so I subbed Gorgonzola, very tasty!)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- 2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven – there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.
Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.