Mac n' Cheese
Who doesn't love macaroni and cheese? It's the perfect comfort food! Inspired by a mindblowingly tasty version of this classic dish I had at the Victory Cafe recently (seriously, the Vic's mac n' cheese is fantastic), I decided to whip up a batch at home. I turned to one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, Rebar by Audrey Alsterburg and Wanda Urbanowicz, and "Audrey's Deluxe Mac & Cheese" sounded almost perfect. I made a few minor adjustments and came up with the following recipe, which produces creamy, garlicky results. The key is really the breadcrumb crust -- the garlic roasts in the oven, imparting a nutty flavour, and the crispy breadcrumbs add an interesting textural dimension to the dish. Enjoy!
3 cups dry macaroni elbows (or other short, chunky pasta)
1.5 cups broccoli florets
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red chile pepper flakes
2.5 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1.75 cups milk
2 tbsp flour
2 cups grated aged white cheddar
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (grind a few slices of bread in a food processor)
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
1. Cook pasta in boiling water. When pasta is almost done, add the broccoli to the boiling water and cook until just tender. Strain broccoli and pasta, and toss with a light coating of olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
2. Heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet and saute onion, red chile flakes, and 1/4 tsp salt for 5 minutes. Add half of the minced garlic, and cook until the garlic turns golden. Remove from heat and stir in half of the oregano, thyme, and parsley. Set aside.
3. Gently warm the milk (I use the microwave). Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter, and whisk constantly until the mixture turns golden. Gradually add the warm milk to the saucepan with 1/2 tsp salt, whisking thoroughly. Heat until sauce thickens (about 10 minutes). Add the onion mixture and the grated cheddar cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted. Season to taste.
4. Make the breadcrumb topping: combine the breadcrumbs with the parmesan and the remaining garlic, oregano, thyme, and parsley. Add 1/4 tsp salt, plenty of cracked pepper, and the remaining 1.5 tbsp olive oil. Mix thoroughly.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To assemble, combine the pasta/broccoli with the cheese sauce and mix well. Pour into an oiled casserole dish. Scatter the topping over the entire surface, working some of it into the noodles. Bake uncovered until golden and bubbly, about 35 minutes.