I thought this week we might mix it up a little bit…so I reached out to one of my favorite Chef Bloggers (don’t call her a foodie) Tricia Lewis, for a guest post & she came back with a great one…enjoy!
When I’m not busy writing my blog, What the Bleep Happened to My Rump Roast?!,
I’m an event planner. Dinner parties, football parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, you name it- I’m in the middle of planning it. When I found out my husband and I were headed down to my brother in law’s house in Austin for my niece’s 16th birthday, the event planning quadrant of my brain immediately kicked in to overdrive and I offered to help out with the food. All of my Sweet 16 parties are requesting mac & cheese bars- a basic mac & cheese with tons of toppings to add on top so you can make your own customized, cheesy creation. I decided I’d do my own at-home version of this for the party and it received rave reviews.
I have a great mac & cheese recipe that’s great, not because its freaking tasty as all get-out, but because it’s easy. Mac & cheese from scratch? You bet your sweet ass you can do this. Here’s what you need:
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
I should note that the cheese isn’t gospel here. If you want pepper jack and white cheddar, than by all means, grate whatever the hell you want. The total 6 cup amount is what’s important, not what’s inside the cups. (Although 6 cups of vodka might mess with the consistency, so at least try to stick to cheese.)
Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water until it’s done. That’s not rocket science, right? Then start heating the milk in a pan. Don’t boil it, but let it get really hot.
While you’re heating the milk, melt the butter in another pan over medium heat and then add the flour. Stir with a whisk for about 2 minutes. You want it to brown just a little so that your mac & cheese doesn’t taste like paper mache.
Then add the milk while whisking. Keep whisking until it thickens. This should take no more than a few minutes. If it’s not thickening up, turn up the heat.
Then just add your cheese and stir it in until it melts. Mix in your pasta and some fresh pepper and you’re good to go.
I put my mac & cheese into a crock pot and left it on low heat. Then I made little bowls of toppings- bacon, broccoli, green onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed vegetables.
This kept me busy enough to avoid excessive conversation with someone who’s family title might rhyme with schmother schin schlaw, and then when it was done, she couldn’t talk because her mouth was full. That’s a whole different kind of success there.
My mac & cheese bar was a solid hit, except for one person who thought it was a salad bar, bless her heart. No judgement. That comes later on, after the margaritas.