“Food is like fashion,” I told my husband and sons as we sat down to eat this macaroni and cheese dish. After their blank stares showed me that they had no idea what I was talking about, I elaborated. “See, the basic macaroni and cheese recipe that I have is like my black wrap dress. It can taste differently every time that I prepare it…just like my dress looks different every time that I wear it because I add different accessories or wear something over it or under it. Do you understand what I’m saying?” From the ensuing silence, I would say their answer is a resounding, “No!” Oh, well…
I have a great “go to” baked macaroni and cheese recipe. It’s a consistent crowd pleaser so I was not looking for a new one. However, I was out with friends at AQ Kafé (that serves European inspired dishes) a few weeks ago and I ate an amazing macaroni and cheese with bacon dish. It was a huge portion, so I shared it with some of the people at my table. We all really enjoyed it and tried to guess what types of cheeses were in it. One of the guys at our table said “goat cheese”. We didn’t believe him at first. After looking at the menu, we discovered that he was right. The three cheeses were goat cheese, Parmesan cheese and white cheddar. I told the kids about it when Reggie and I came home and Sean pleaded with me to make him a similar mac and cheese. I’m so glad that he pressed the issue, because it was so good. As Reggie summed, it’s a great special occasion dish but it’s too “heavy” to add as a regular addition to a family menu. I love special occasion foods J
European Inspired Macaroni and Cheese
Yields: 6-8 servings
• 1 tbsp butter (1/2 tbsp to butter baking dish, 1/2 tbsp to dot mac & cheese)
• 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1/2 1b elbow macaroni
• 1/2 stick butter (room temperature)
• 5 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
• 8 oz shredded white cheddar cheese
• 4 oz goat cheese
• 1/2 pint half-and-half
• 1 lightly beaten large egg
• Salt and black pepper to taste
(Optional: 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8x8x2 Pyrex baking dish.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over a high flame. When the water is boiled, add the vegetable oil and elbow macaroni. Follow the directions on the macaroni box in order to cook the macaroni until it just becomes tender (approximately 7 minutes). Drain the macaroni in a strainer. (Don’t rinse!)
3. While the macaroni is cooking, mix the Parmesan and white cheddar shredded cheeses together in a medium bowl.
4. Return the cooked macaroni to the empty large pot. Stir in the ½ stick of butter, the half-and-half, egg, salt, pepper and ½ of the shredded cheese mixture and the entire 4 ounces of goat cheese until everything is mixed well together.
5. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle on the rest of the shredded cheeses and “dot” the last tablespoon of butter on top.
6. Bake the macaroni and cheese until it bubbles around the edges (approximately 35 minutes).
7. Toss the crumbled bacon on top of the dish right before you serve it (so that the bacon will be crisp).