Monday, May 05, 2008

The WeDine Sixty Dollar Goat Friendly Deluxe Mac & Cheese

'I need something substantial' were the words spoken by Laura last Wednesday, in describing her personal requirements for the evening's dinner. I concurred. Meg was in Minneapolis at the time, which left Laura, Michelle and I to our own devices. I'd brought the Rebar cookbook to work, thinking that there would be something suitably healthy and hearty to inspire us, but after reading recipe after recipe calling for multiple forms of cheese, I began to deflate. And then I thought to myself, 'what the heck, why not live dangerously?'

Being lactose intolerant, I've been avoiding macaroni and cheese for years. It's one of those foods, like lasagna, that I just couldn't imagine tasting acceptable using goat cheese. But for some reason, this day made me want it so so much that I thought we should give it a go. Little did I know that a goat-friendly aged-cheddar-substitute (which was aptly named 'drunken goat') would set us back twenty three dollars! But hey, you only live once, right?

What follows is the Rebar recipe, altered to suit our needs. (Strangely enough, the original recipe was meant to serve ten - every other recipe in the book serves about four or six, but apparently Rebar's macaroni and cheese is meant to feed an entire children's soccer team. We did reduce the quantities by half, and it still made enough for about eight people, so please be prepared.)

The WeDine Sixty Dollar Goat Friendly Deluxe Mac & Cheese
3 cups dry macaroni pasta
1/8 cup olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chpped italian parsley
1/8 cup butter
2 cups milk (we used lactose-free milk, but soy could work too)
1/8 cup unbleached flour
2 cups aged white cheddar (we used an aged goat cheese)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan (we used romano)
1/4 cup pine nuts

1. Cook pasta until al dente. Strain and toss with olive oil.
2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in skillet and saute onion for 5 minutes. Add half of minced garlic, 1/2 tsp of salt and saute until garlic is golden. Transfer to bowl and stir in half of chopped herbs.
3. Make a roux for the cheese sauce: gently heat milk and keep warm; set a saucepan over medium heat and melt butter; sprinkle in flour and whisk constantly; gradually add warm milk and 1 tsp salt and whisk thoroughly; heat until sauce thickens (about 10 mins).
4. Add sauteed onions/herb mix and grated cheese to roux. Season to taste.
5. Make topping: combine breadcrumbs with remaining garlic, herbs, parmesan (or romano), pine nuts, 1/2 tsp salt, cracked pepper, and 3 tbsp olive oil. Mix thoroughly.
6. Preheat broiler. Assemble noodles and cheese sauce in a bowl and mix well. Pour into a baking dish, cover with breadcrumb topping and bake uncovered until browned.

Pictured above is the mac & cheese prior to baking. It was perfect: creamy, flavourful, tangy, cheesy, and full of fresh herbs. Unfortunately, the pasta was then covered with the breadcrumb, pine nut, and romano cheese topping and baked in the oven for about half an hour, which, though it does sound delightful, made the pasta dry out substantially in the process.

I plan to make this dish again, and would advise using a small amount of topping and baking it only for a few minutes under the broiler. I'm pretty sure that's how Giada does it, and I trust her wholeheartedly.

Here is the finished plate, along with a lovely green salad featuring julienned carrots, red onion, and a homemade balsamic dressing.


Meg said...

mmmm, look at that bubbly gooey goodness – I want it! I'll totally go with your suggestions for minimal or no baking. Those of us who usually miss out on cheese need to take advantage of it at its full creamyness, right?

I'm sad to have missed out on this Wednesday...

Meg said...

Meant to say I really love the photo - the motion is perfect, I can taste it...

moyrad said...

I spoke with Claire at work and she advised to only broil to toast the breadcrumbs and to make extra sauce to guard against too much pasta absorption. The cheese was tasty - i'm not sure $23 tasty but...
I really like the herby additions to this recipe, i think i have only ever had plain.

Anyone up for trying a macaroni and blue cheese?? Goat or Sheep?

Laura said...

It was definitely a flavourful mac & cheese - a shame about the loss of sauce, but at least we got to taste it prior to baking! Less topping and baking would be a good idea, but the ingredients were good, and the herbiness was good - and that drunken goat cheese was delicious (thankfully!). Michelle, you know I'm up for a blue cheese mac & cheese (which is good, seeing as we'll probably be cooking it together!).

claire said...

Looks delish! Funny coincidence: I just blogged about mac & cheese recently too. Course, mine is all cow. Not so great for the WeDine group, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I ate at an upscale restaurant last night where the dessert special was blue cheese cheesecake. We didn't have any because it didn't sound good in spite of the waiter saying it was wonderful. We wondered if it was and if no one was trying so there was a surplus because he kept trying to push it. If we could have had one bite to try first but at $10 a piece we didn't go for it. Might be something for the adventurous to try??