It is highly (highly!) unlikely for me to try a new mac n’ cheese recipe since the one I have been make for eons is just about my idea of perfect. But you know, I decided to try this out of pure curiosity. Curiosity is a little bit of a blessing and sometimes, a little bit of curse too. Odd, isn’t that?
I saw this not long before Thanksgiving, but just could not manage to force it into the menu that I already had – ie: too many dishes and no where near enough time. So I thought let’s give it go in between the big ol’ food holidays – Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is never anything wrong with a warm comfort food when the weather gets cold (yes, it is cold – for us anyway – don’t judge). This also does not cook the pasta ahead of time – a step removed – already a big fan. Now let us see if the whole thing can live up to the hype. Opinions reserved until me and the Boy try it. Proof in the pudding, as it were.
modified by me from the NYT recipe
1 cup small curd cottage cheese (full fat, if you please)
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp dry mustard (Coleman’s)
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound extra sharp cheddar, grated (Cabot)
1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked
2 Tbs unsalted butter
Heat oven to 350 degree and position rack on upper third. Use cooking spray on a 9″ round or square baking pan, or a 9.5 deep dish pyrex dish, like for a pie
In a large bowl, mix together puree cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt, and pepper together with an immersion blender. Grate extra sharp cheddar and reserve 1/4 cup grated cheddar for topping. Add to the bowl the remaining cheese, and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan making sure pasta is covered in liquid, cover tightly with heavy duty foil and bake 30 minutes.
Uncover, stir gently, sprinkle with remaining cheddar and dot with remaining butter. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
Source: NYT – need to give credit to the author at the NYT food section [Julia Moskin]. Will be difficult now since everything, mostly, is behind a pay way. Too bad, but there are other resources if you know where to look.
Because I was using a glass Pyrex plate, I lowered the temperature to 350 degrees. I think I will decide what to do once the first 30 minutes goes by and I get a sense of how things are going.
Must admit it did not look so pretty going into pie plate, but even ugly ducklings can turn into swans. Didn’t take a picture out of embarrassment for the mac n cheese, not me.
After the first 30 minutes, the pasta was still more tough than I would like, so 15 more minutes in the foil. That said, the flavor was spot on. I could taste the Coleman’s mustard and the cayenne came in at the end. Not much in the nutmeg department even though I only ever use freshly grated nutmeg (so simple and so worth it).
When I opened the dish after 45 minutes you could really smell the nutmeg, and that was great, but perhaps a bit more next time. I stirred again and then added the mixed white & orange Cabot seriously sharp cheddar to the top, turned the pan half way around and baked for 30 more minutes. Just divine. Sampled while not making a total mess of the top of the dish. Needs more black pepper to serve, but that is the case, in my opinion, every mac n cheese – I
blame appreciate my mom for that even though we only had that pre-ground stuff you get at the store. It still made a significant difference.
Do you get the giggles when a recipe just totally exceeds expectations? I sometimes do and I did tonight. Part of that might be beer but the rest was just “oh, holy cat, this is amazing.”
Right now, I am writing while the mac and cheese cools. I want to have that for breakfast but will wait for a day until the MotH can take some great pictures.
Guess someone didn’t want to wait, ah well. Can quite blame the Boy for that.