grown up mac and cheese 1

The ultimate comfort food “kicked up a notch.” Whether you prefer the blue box or your mama’s homemade recipe (like I do), most people don’t really argue about the fact that they love mac and cheese. So as we head into cooler weather, it was definitely fitting that Heather of Randomosity and the Girl would choose one of Ina’s mac and cheese recipes for her BB pick.

I haven’t tried many other homemade mac and cheese recipes other than my old (and favorite) standby but I’m always willing to give another recipe a shot. Ina’s recipe combined 2 very grown up cheeses with the deliciousness that is cheddar but since I’m still unsure if I’m allergic to blue cheese or not, I passed it over for a champagne cheddar (Yancy from a small dairy in upstate New York) that brilliantly showed up in my grocery store a few months ago. Holy crap this cheese is good. I wanted something just as sophisticated as the blue cheese and I definitely got it with this cheese.

Aside from the cheese, I made a few other modifications: skim milk, 2% cheddar, and turkey bacon. And while I really enjoyed the mac and cheese, it wasn’t “blow my mind” fabulous. Maybe it’s because of my modifications – maybe turkey bacon isn’t a great substitute for real bacon in all recipes. Maybe I cooked it a few extra minutes – it was a little on the dry side. I don’t know. Kyle wasn’t thrilled with it at all and while he finished his serving, he didn’t go back for seconds – very strange for him. Oh well. I’ve still got our old standby so I’m not upset that this one didn’t turn out as wonderful as I had hoped it would.

Thanks again to Heather for choosing this recipe and for starting our group off on a trend of cool-weather foods!

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Grown Up Mac and Cheese

source: Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 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
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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  • September 11, 2008 at 9:03 AM

    The presentation is beautiful! Sorry it didn’t result in second helpings but its always fun to try something new to appreciate those standby recipes even more 🙂

  • September 11, 2008 at 9:04 AM

    It looks lovely and I love the shape. I used turkey bacon too and we loved it. I have overbaked homemade mac before, so I really reduce the oven time. We loved it- sorry it wasn’t your favorite!

  • September 11, 2008 at 10:26 AM

    Looks delicious. I love the shape of the mold you used. Champagne cheddar sounds amazing, I’m going to look for that.

  • nbbride06
    September 11, 2008 at 12:15 PM

    Gotta use whole milk and “real” bacon next time 🙂

  • September 11, 2008 at 1:32 PM

    Champagne cheddar…I’ll have to look for that at my market! The cut-out mac and cheese looks delicious.

  • September 11, 2008 at 3:28 PM

    I love the flower shape–so fancy! The champagne cheddar sounds incredible. I am a big turkey bacon fan but i think this one screamed for the real deal!

  • September 11, 2008 at 4:55 PM

    Wow your presentation is beautiful! Try it with whole milk and bacon I think that really made a difference (not for the waistline!) The champagne cheddar sounds delicious something I would love to try!

  • September 11, 2008 at 5:00 PM

    Love the adorable shape. That makes a grown up dish even more child friendly.

  • September 11, 2008 at 5:50 PM

    Yours is easily the prettiest I have seen. I thought the flavour was fantastic but it seems to depend a bit on how you feel about blue cheese. I’m a fan and I loved this dish, but I can see that not everyone would feel the same.

  • September 11, 2008 at 7:16 PM

    It looks beautiful! I SO wish that I had skipped the blue. I saw the Yancy in the store and thought about it — oh, the road not taken. I might have to try your old standby next time. It was fun, though!

  • September 11, 2008 at 9:05 PM

    This looks really pretty even if you didnt love it. I enjoyed it but I didnt bake it nearly as long as stated.

  • September 11, 2008 at 9:40 PM

    Wow, this is really pretty! Not my favorite mac and cheese, either, but I’m going to have to track down some champagne Cheddar. Yum.

  • September 11, 2008 at 10:12 PM

    I’m with deb – what a cute shape!!!!

  • September 12, 2008 at 8:15 AM

    OK, I gotta ask, what did you use to get that flower shape? Was it a baking dish or did you somehow cut the finished mac into the shape with a cookie cutter? Its a really great presentation and I’d love to try it out sometime.

  • smellslikehome
    September 12, 2008 at 6:14 PM

    thanks everyone!

    Erica – I used a Comfort Grip flower shape cookie cutter made by Wilton. It was a pretty good size and was just about enough for one small serving.

  • September 15, 2008 at 10:00 AM

    This looks so delicious. The presentation really does wonders for it’s appeal. Mmmm mac and cheese.

  • September 23, 2008 at 8:51 AM

    I love the flower shape! It adds a whimsical spin to this “adult” dish!

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