Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Best Macaroni & Cheese Recipe...

I admit I love the yuppie crack-and I have to admit that I'm almost always disappointed when I order macaroni and cheese in a smart restaurant. Even the soul food joints often disappoint. It is very hard to produce the taste and texture that will make you glad you spent the $2-$12, or make you long for that serious macaroni and cheese you've, sadly, never really experienced. Nostalgia for something that never was? What is all the fuss? When your local newspaper has a piece comparing store-bought boxes, when your local diner's stuff is stiff and greasy, when your local steak joint has you shaking your head, what is the kid in you to do?

There is only one way to make it right, and that is the French way, mon frère. Get some decent boxed macaroni, cook it al dente, drain it, let it cool a little (don't rinse), and soak it overnight in some heavy cream. The macaroni (I like to use rigatoni) will absorb the cream. Exactly. The next day, pour some more cream over the macaroni, and mix in a bunch of cheap, shredded cheese. The cheaper the better. Then also mix in 1/2 cup of good cheese, like Parm or imported Romano. Mix it up, throw a handful more good cheese on top, grate some nutmeg-THE key step in this, and all great creamy cheese dishes-and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Then combine two egg yolks with about 4 tablespoons cream, whip it up good, and top macaroni with
the mixture. Broil until top is nicely browned-don't be scared, but don't burn it, either.
Here it is, all bubbly, with a slice of bacon-wrapped turkey terrine (meatloaf to you non-Frenchies); although it is perfect by itself, with a glass of lightly chilled Alsatian Riesling if you like white, or Chianti if you prefer red. Because the best macaroni and cheese, the dish you make at home, makes friends very easily.
Anyone want to comment on their great recipes or favorite restaurant macaroni and cheese?