sept 26 2008

Mac ‘n cheese, my way

Published by at 12:24 under oppskrifter

My take on mac 'n cheese
I’m just going to slot this recipe down before I forget how I did it: None of the measurements are precice, since I didn’t follow any recipe myself, you’ll just have to eyeball it, like I did. 
  • 3-4 cups cooked whole wheat semolina Cellentani pasta (a fancy  tripple-twisted macaroni)
Cellentani whole wheat semolina pasta
  • half an onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tb butter
  • 2-3 tb flour
  • 1-2 cups of frozen spinach
  • 2-3 cups of milk
  • half a can of ham (Spam!) with 10 % fat
  • 2 tb cream cheese (with spices)
  • as much grated cheese you want to, I added 1/2 cup to the sauce and 1 cup of Jarlsberg on top
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • nutmeg
  • celeriac salt, if you want to

While the pasta was cooking away in salted water until al’ dente, the oven was heating up to 200 degrees Celcius, and I started to sauté the onion and the garlic to a shiny, translucent state. The blocks of frozen spinach were added to the golden mix, and were left to melt under a lid. Then I drizzled two tablespoons of flour into the green mix, stirred it all together, and started to add the milk gradually while stirring meticoulously, until I had a beautiful, green sauce, not to thick, not to thin. I seasoned it with some celeriac salt, regular salt, freshly ground black pepper, and some grated nutmeg (my favourite!). The only remaining thing to do then was to add the diced ham and cream cheese (which I’ll substitute for another kind of cheese the next time since it didn’t add very much flavour) and some of the grated Jarlsberg, and stir until the cheese had melted. In the meanwhile the pasta was done, so I drained it and rinsed it with cold water to stop it from getting all mushy because we don’t want mushy pasta, do we? (I know an italian guy who throws out freshly cooked spagetthi if it’s just a tad more on the mushy side than on the al’ dente side, but I’m not that extreme. His roommate on the other side, who ate the freshly cooked pasta from the sink, while muttering about the shame of throwing away food, is extreme (but I agree more with him than with the food-wasting guy).- Better to take extra care to not overcook the pasta!).

Ahnywhay (phew!), I folded the pasta into the spinachy Bechamel sauce, poured it into a buttered, ovenproof dish, put cheese and breadcrumbs on top and showed the lot into the oven.  I don’t know how long it stayed there, I took it out when the top started to brown and look nice and crunchy (and indeed it was). Maybe 10-15 minutes? I think my crappy student housing oven should not be trusted to behave how ovens from more «furnished homes» do (I’m sorry Mr. Crap Y. Oven, but it’s true).

Some Dijon mustard would’ve been good I think, and some time in the future I’ll try a version with blue cheese. But for now, I’m very pleased with how my first mac ‘n cheese turned out. Yay!

My mac 'n cheese  My mac 'n cheese

Making this dish reminded me of my all time favourite dinner from my childhood, my mothers german «Nudel auflauf». Its just cooked pasta, with bits of cured ham, sausage (whatever you have on hand), mixed up with beaten eggs and cream, salt and pepper, and then cooked in the oven for about an hour until the egg-mix is starting to set, and the top getting brown and crusty, served with a thick tomato mouth is watering from just thinking about it! I need to make it as soon as I’ve recovered from the mac ‘n cheese..mmmmhh!

Oh, and one more thing. Does anyone know why Spam is called Spam? And why are those annoying e-mails, that are offering me pills that will enlarge parts that I don’t even possess, called spam mail? Please enlighten me, someone.

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