Friday, September 2, 2011

Finders Keepers

I found it. FINALLY.

Really, it's true.

What is "it", you ask?

Why, this:
Beecher's "World's Best" Mac & Cheese

I could have eaten it with a giant wooden spoon, as pictured above.

To further explain, I've been on a quest to find my mac & cheese. No, that's not code for anything. It just means a mighty macaroni & cheese recipe. The one that I can turn to for a guilty pleasure or a cozy dinner party. It will impress yet comfort. It will taste even better reheated. It will not be low fat.
Along my journey, I've broiled tomatoes, roasted garlic, rendered pancetta, fried onions, baked croutons, tried every permutation of cheese, and I've rouxed and rouxed and rouxed...and they've all been right on, just not the right one.

The Waverly Inn recipe came close with its addition of white truffle oil, but I felt like my soul mate mac was still out there...somewhere...

Then came Beecher's.
Or rather, an introduction to Beecher's via a special someone who had frequented the Pike Place Market home base and whispered in my ear that this may be a like of Lucy.
Before I was able to plan a trip to Seattle, a New York branch appeared in the Flatiron District. What luck!
I ventured to the shop pre-Hurricane Irene, hoping to gather enough curds & whey to weather the storm.

It was hard not to linger and taste...
And not only cheese...

But, back to mac & cheese!
This really is the mac & cheese for me. Nothing to slave over. The penne gives it a rustic feel and surprisingly, it doesn't veer far from the classic recipe except some chipotle chili powder. But, the trick? Really, really, really, fantastic well crafted cheese, such as Beecher's

Here's the golden recipe:
Beecher’s World’s Best Mac and Cheese
Serves ten

12 oz. good-quality penne pasta
4 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. flour
3 c. milk
14 oz. Beecher’s Flagship Cheese, grated
2 oz. Monterey Jack, grated
½-1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
½ tsp. garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook penne for 2 minutes less than recommended on the package. Rinse in cold water; set aside. Pasta should still have a slight crunch.
3. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat; whisk in flour. Continue whisking and cooking for 2 minutes.
4. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly until sauce has thickened (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat.
5. Add cheeses (reserve 2 ounces to top final dish), salt to taste, half of the chile powder, and all of the garlic powder. Stir until cheese has melted and all ingredients are well incorporated (about 3 minutes).
6. In a medium bowl, mix together cooked pasta and sauce gently but thoroughly. Pour pasta into prepared baking dish; sprinkle with remaining cheese and chile powder.
7. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I was a little heavy handed with the chili pepper (to my liking) and added a good microplaning of pecorino romano at the end, but other than those additions, I just stuck to the goods. And boy oh boy was it gooooooood.

My only request is that if you bake up a batch, you invite me over.

1 comment :

  1. Friends don't let friends eat bad Mac & cheese, and good Mac & cheese comes from good cheese. I'm glad I got in on the first tasting.