As I write this, it is 95° outside and my house is a balmy 80° according to my thermostat. The mere thought of turning on my oven just about puts me over the edge.
I know what you are thinking. Turn down the air conditioning already so that you can bake something. Ah-ha, my friend. Here in lies the problem. You are clearly not living on the West Coast, where most of us only have AC in our cars, and some not even that. The thought of 90° weather with no AC makes all of my good Southern relatives go weak at the knees. What on earth do you mean no AC? Houses here in our little mountain town just aren’t equipped. And don’t kid yourself, it is HOT.
Why am I talking about this? Because just a short week or so ago, it was not too hot to bake in my house. I also know that some of you lucky souls are still using your kitchens to their full extent, including ovens and broilers, because you do have AC in your homes. It would be wrong of me to deprive you of a recipe review just because I would rather jump naked into a lake right than think about hot, cheesy, gooey pasta. Totally selfish.
I’ve tried a few recipes for mac and cheese since I began this blogging journey. I’m getting to be pro at making Béchamel. But, you know, I can’t stop trying new recipes. It’s like a compulsion. Or ADD. Hard to say.
This time, I went with the good old classic mac and cheese recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Straight-forward, simple, and good, this recipe should definitely be added to the rotation. In the fall. As always, I did change it up a bit. First, I used whole grain pasta because that’s what I had. A little note on pasta. I really do like my pasta fresh and traditionally prepared. I’ve tried to like the whole grain thing, really, I have, but I’m just not into it. That said, this recipe can take whole grain pasta just fine.
I had less than a pound of pasta, so reduced the cheese and other ingredients accordingly. I used 7 ounces of gruyere and 5 ounces of sharp cheddar in place of 8 ounces each of Monterey jack and cheddar. This was the perfect amount for a standard 13ish ounce box of whole grain pasta. I also grated a little fresh nutmeg into the Béchamel before throwing in the cheese. Try the nutmeg in your mac and cheese. It is delicious.
I mentioned this earlier on Instagram, but my son was expecting to have mac and cheese out of a box for dinner the night that I made this particular recipe. I have no idea where he gets these crazy ideas. Who would ever serve their kids boxed mac and cheese? I certainly don’t have three boxes of Star Wars Kraft sitting in my pantry right this very minute. Anyway, he gave me the evil eye when I handed him his plate. Twenty minutes later, he was asking for seconds. “Mom. What’s in this? It is Goo-ood!”
My sentiments exactly, Buddy.
(Oh, and P.S.? I never do the homemade breadcrumb thing on my mac and cheese. Just seems fussy. If you try it, let me know how it goes. I might be convinced to try in out next time. In October.)