Ohhh emmm geeeee, friends. I had an epic Friday night last night. After being right in the middle of data collection for my research, prepping to give two presentations next week, and having a ton of other things thrown at me last week, this is how I felt after yesterday afternoon…
Probably not most people’s perception of epic. BUT, it did end up being extremely delicious and relaxing, so I’m calling it a success.
What did I do? The best stress relief I know, cooking! What did I make? One of my favorite comfort foods of all time, MAC & CHEESE!
But not just any mac & cheese. It was the first successful mac & cheese I’ve made. It was also the tastiest, I’ve ever made…thanks to a couple things.
You see, last week I was pinning away when I happened across a mac & cheese recipe that seemed to top all of them. The secret ingredient? Beecher’s Flagship Cheese. Beecher’s cheese is an artisan cheesemaker out of Seattle that puts high importance on the flavor and purity of their cheese. They don’t use any artificial preservatives and use local ingredients…so, it doesn’t really come as a surprise that that is well known and extremely popular.
Last weekend when I was home, I was scrounging around in my parents’ fridge when I came across a couple packages of Beechers cheese! I had forgotten that my great aunt and uncle always send us some for Christmas and we still had some left! Luckily, my wonderful mother gave me the block of their Flagship reserve for my mac & cheese lovin’.
I also wanted to note that the other thing I loved about this blog post/recipe share was it was so informative and personal…I want to be friends with these guys! So here goes, welcome to my epic Friday night mac & cheese experiment.
Ingredients for my Favorite Mac & Cheese (adapted from My Cooking Quest )
3/4 box Rigatoni pasta (or tube pasta of your choice)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
10 oz. package of Beecher’s flagship reserve cheese (or quality semi-hard cheese), grated
1 tbsp. semi soft cheese (I used ricotta)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion salt
pinch of salt.
Bread crumbs (optional, but yummy!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook the noodles! Boil the pasta for about 2-3 minutes less than the package says. I accidently dumped the whole box in the water (too many things going on at once), but you only need to use about 3/4 the box! I also used the wooden spoon trick to keep the water from boiling over while I got other stuff ready. While the noodles are cooking, start grating the cheese. After they were done, drain them and put them in a large mixing bowl with 1 tbsp. olive oil.
Next up, grate that cheese! I used my one dollar bargain grater and it worked perfect. It took about 5 minutes to grate the entire block.
Mountain of cheese!
Next, it was time to start the cheese sauce. Because I have had trouble making a good, thick sauce in the past, I tried my best to be prepared before I started making it to ensure no slip ups!
First up, melt the butter of medium heat.
Next, add flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes! I learned that this is creating a roux, a thickening agent for sauces. At one point, I was stirring both the the noodles and the roux at the same time…I felt like a madwoman. There may have even been an evil laugh going through my head as I felt like a mad scientist on the verge of a breakthrough (Yes, I am that nerdy).
Next, add milk slowly and keep whiskin’ away for 7-8 more minutes. This is creating a bechamel. Important…KEEP WHISKING! In the past, my sauce hasn’t thickened up like it did this time and I know now that it was because I wasn’t whisking enough!
When it’s thick enough (after about 8 minutes, it will be!), remove from heat and slowly whisk in cheese.
After cheese is melted and thoroughly mixed in, mix in spices…
Combine noodles and cheese cause in large mixing bowl. Pour into baking dish, top with bread crumbs, and bake that pan of cheesy goodness! 20 minutes should do.
After 20 minutes, I was super nervous to check out this creation. Luckily, it’s appearance was decent and it smelled DIVINE!
I dished up some with tomatoes, poured another glass of wine, started into Downton Abbey on netflix and had myself a perfect little Friday night dinner.
Boomsticks! My to-do list is a mile long and I’m hooked on Downton Abbey, have a good Saturday all!