Thursday, December 27, 2012

Try This Thursday

I have a hundred and more ideas for Try This Thursday, and yes, that might be a slight exaggeration. Regardless, I decided today to stop thinking of the ideas and finally write them down. For Christmas dinner this year, we broke our normal tradition and decided to bring Texas eatin' to California. Mom was under the weather so I'm proud to say I did a lot of the cooking. I wanted green beans with bacon cooked alongside, Dad wanted a form of mac 'n cheese and we all wanted mashed potatoes. I found a recipe online for the green beans, the taters would be easy enough, and Mom said "We'll just do pasta shells with some cheese" to which my jaw dropped and a gasp escaped my lips. "What is the point of Pinterest, Mother, if we do not utilize the recipes?" I asked, 93% serious. I then proceeded to show her my board of recipes (yes, 7 whole pins on that bad boy) that contained 3 different mac 'n cheese concoctions. I picked the following and made it.

White Cheddar and Parmesan Mac 'n Cheese

16 oz macaroni pasta (any shape shape you like)
1/2 C butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 C flour
3 1/2 C milk, warmed
1/4 C white wine (or sub w/chicken broth)
1/2 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 lb cheddar, cubed
1/2 C panko bread crumbs
1 Tbl parsley
2 Tbl butter, melted

Note: the second I opened this recipe, I almost closed it. That's way too many ingredients for this novice chef. Then I thought, in the spirit of Christmas, why not. 
Per the website linked above, I cooked the pasta 2-3 minutes less than normal. While that was going, I focused my efforts on the sauce. Butter, salt and pepper melt, then you add the flour. That mixture was a little grainy and thick, which was the first time I thought I did something wrong (many more to follow). Then, I nuked the milk and added it along with 1/4 cup chicken broth (my Dad isn't a big wine fan) to the flour mixture. At this point, it was thin and I knew I did something wrong. The recipe told me to boil the bad boy and whisk away, so I did just that, and sure enough, it thickened. I did burn the bottom while trying to get the stuff to boil, so keep that heat on a medium to low setting. 
We used velveeta and Raw Milk Cheddar Cheese from the good ol' Trader Joe's down the street. Threw that into the pot and stirred. At some point, I drained the noodles and put them back in their pot, waiting for the sauce to be completely melted and smooth. Finally, that happened and into the pot of noodles it went. This was then put into a glass pan, with the bread crumbs and butter mixture sprinkled on top. Cooked it for 30 and out it came. Staring at the steaming pan of goodness, my first thought was, "I should have halved the recipe." I contemplated at the beginning, but my love for mac 'n cheese won out and I made the whole thing. The three of us ate one row. One row. We now have this heavenly creation coming out of our ears, but I don't mind. 

We ate this with brisket, which was perfect because the macaroni is incredibly rich and the brisket's subtle flavor gave your taste buds a break. The recipe makes a very cheesy macaroni; I'd be hard pressed to find a shell that wasn't loaded down with cheese. So, all in all, an amazing recipe. The preparation took ~20 minutes and was perfect to make first, as it was baking while I worked on the green beans. Keep in mind this makes a lot of mac 'n cheese and, while you think you'll grab seconds, you probably won't. If I can make this, and get happy head nods from my parents while they chewed and grinned, anyone can.