Monday, October 6, 2008

Tough times call for comfort food.


We're having a Macaroni-Off this weekend. Three families making three versions of the guilty-pleasure classic. (I can't tell you how amusing it is to think I am going to show up to a potluck where everyone is intentionally bringing the same dish.)

My version has four ingredients: mounds of pasta, mounds of grated Tillamook cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper.

Does anyone have a blue-ribbon recipe to share? I was going to cook up y simple classic, but I need to lock down a victory here, folks.

The photo up top is of THIS Saveur recipe, which I attempted to make once and screwed up. Maybe I should try again.

Incidentally, this reminds me of a Comfort Food Cook-Off we had at my office a few years ago. Totally awesome. I'd never seen so many crock-pots in one room before. One girl brought small bags of Fritos, opened them up, plopped some chili, cheese, and onions in there and handed people a fork to chow down. Classy! It was excellent. I highly recommend this as a cheap & cheerful event to host. Very low pressure, as you can imagine.

45 comments:

cybill said...

I reckon you've got to think outside the casserole dish for this. Go and buy some macaroni from a great restaurant and put it in one of your own pots. That way you have no fuss and a good chance at winning (but you won't care if you don't because you didn't make it)! Genius. If you get busted just say it was a social experiment.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

This baby is brilliant, Decorno. It's from the Oct 2008 issue of Gourmet. Delicious. Utterly.

"Clementine Paddleford obtained this recipe, circa 1951, from Edith Davison, the managing caterer for the Des Moines Women’s Club, who brilliantly combined milk and bread crumbs as a substitute for a labor-intensive white sauce. With any luck, it will be in our repertoire until 2051."

1-1/2 cups scalded milk
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1-1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked macaroni
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup diced pimento
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon grated onion
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter

Pour milk over soft bread crumbs; add cheese. Cover and let stand until cheese melts. Add macaroni. Combine and add beaten egg yolks, pimento, parsley, onion, salt, and melted butter.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into mixture. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2-quart casserole. Bake at 350°F until puffed and golden, about 35 minutes.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Sorry. Left out a note: it serves 4.

Anonymous said...

I do a bleu cheese/corkscrew version. I like it a bit askew...

Decorno said...

Cybill - I like your lazy approach to this. Sincerely. That might be what I end up doing.


AL - - "serves 4." Ha. Have you seen me eat? :) Might only serve one when I a done with it. It sounds great.

summerdavid said...

I am a huge fan of the recipe from The Balthazar Cookbook, reproduced here:

http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipes/cookbook/macaroni.html

I am NOT a cook, nor do I particularly enjoy cooking, but this stuff is SO WORTH IT.

Susan said...

Your Tillamook cheese and pasta sounds good. That's all you need: good cheese and pasta... and maybe some cream... and definitely some onions!

Decorno said...

Ok - everyone needs to stop now and click on Summerdavid's profile.

First, how cute is she? Disgusting. I mean that in a nice-jealous way.

Second, your blogger question/answer cracks me up.

Susan - onions... YES. I totally need some onion action in my mac & cheese.

KatinkaPinka said...

ah! i was just thinking about making homemade mac & cheese...i'm going to have to check out all these recipes.

Anonymous said...

instead of tillamook, use fattening marscapone cheese plus some half and half, and consider adding ham (and possibly mushrooms). now that is comfort.

the sweet life with olives said...

just saw anthony bourdain's no reservations in beruit episode yesterday. he was there when the war broke out and it was crazy to watch. when he and the crew boarded a marines ship to escape he was impressed (and comforted) at how they served tuna noodle cass. and mac and cheese, two of the ultimate comfort foods.

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

This post makes me sad. All that homemade mac and cheese sounds really amazing. But cheddar cheese isn't in Germany where we're living now. You can buy this little packet of "cheddar slices" but they're orange, and that's about it.

I LOVE the idea of everyone bringing the exact same food. It would be interesting to see the same with potato salad, though who could eat THAT much potato salad?

hello gorgeous said...

The only Martha Stewart cookbook I have is a skinny little thing called, "Favorite Comfort Food."

It has a mac and cheese recipe with sharp white cheddar and gruyere - it's so good. I add a minced onion and brown in the butter first before adding the flour. You can find it on Martha Stewart.com.

(You're not going to do it, are you? You are going to go to Macaroni Grill and buy it already made, aren't you?)

I want the recipe for the blue cheese version from anon...

Brooke said...

This is the best mac and cheese ever! A little more complicated but well worth the work!!!

http://www.jamesbriscione.com/2007/04/mac-n-cheese.html

Athenaeus said...

I second An Aesthete's Lament's recommendation. The addition of eggwhites adds a quiche-like consistency that's great and helps keep it moist plus you get the most beautifully browned top.

Be the change..... said...

That reminds me of a thanksgiving potluck I went to while in college with a bunch of classmates. Everyone except the host brought a green bean casserole!!! We had turkey and LOTS of green beans for dinner!

Anonymous said...

That picture looks delish but when I read that recipe.... omigod, how many thousand calories per person is that?!?!? My mother used to make sauce the wrong way round, adding flour last.
Chopped onions softened in a spoonful of butter, then milk and pepper (enough salt in the cheese, so leave it out!). About 1 cup of milk, I think. When that's almost boiling, add cheese and stir trough. About 1 or 2 cups, probably. Can't remember. Has to be good cheddar or matured gouda or gruyere; something flavorful. (I wonder what it would be like with blue cheese? Hmm... )
Then add maizena to bind it all together. Mix with the macaroni, put in casserole, sprinkle with parmesan and bake til brown on top. Or just forget baking it and serve straight away. Yum.
Never make it, tho. My stomach can't handle cheese anymore. :-(

Jamie said...

I saw a recipe that sounded amazing today at Picky Palate:
http://www.picky-palate.com/2008/10/famous-gourmet-mac-and-cheese-artisanal.html

Anonymous said...

Hands down, Blue Onion Bistro (yes, the one in Seattle) mac & cheese is the way to go:

http://www.recipezaar.com/115139

JJ said...

8 weeks until Mexico.

That's all I'm saying.

Anonymous said...

What a perfect idea right now - I love it! "Mac Chuh" is the affectionate nickname my hubby & I have for our favorite heat-the-house-up recipe - we make a basic version, but agree: use lots of onions and the best Cheddar you can get. I bake it in the perfect round casserole, found at a thrift shop a few years back: it's vintage Danish, cast iron enameled mustard yellow -- You inspired me: I'm making some tonight! We're in the Finger Lakes regions of NYS - we just had our first hard frost last night, first fire in the wood stove this season.
Love your blog!!!

Kelsey said...

Mac and cheese is one of my favorite substances on earth (along with sour cherry pie), and this Martha Stewart recipe over at smitten kitchen is AMAZING:

http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/05/marthas-macaroni-and-cheese/

It's creamy and delicious and, let me repeat, AMAZING! Even if you don't make it this weekend, you've gotta try it out!

Anonymous said...

Barefoot Contessa's Mac & Cheese is delicious!!

David said...

Three cheeses and prosciutto, I make this one from Cottage Living way too often. Or I did before boyfriend went on South Beach. Come to think of it, this may be the reason boyfriend went on South Beach.

http://www.cottageliving.com/cottage/food/article/0,21135,1216070,00.html

David said...

oops, bad link, here it is.

http://www.cottageliving.com/cottage/food/article/0,21135,1216070,00.html

John said...

I agree with Hello Gorgeous, the old Martha recipe is one of the best! The nutmeg and cayenne (which I add a bit more of) gives it some nice dimension and interest. As a classicist, it is the only way to go for me.

http://tinyurl.com/6oqbc2

Alice Almighty said...

Mac-n-cheese has been my favorite all my life, here is my {slightly updated} mom's recipe. It's really good, I promise. www.bohemianhellhole.com

xoxo, Alice

Mackenzie said...

OH MY GOODNESS.

All of this good shit.

Thank you thank you thank you.

Kwana said...

My recipe is all eyeball and changes each time. Please share the winning recipe. I'd love to know what type if cheese wins. It should be a fun night.

Alison said...

You can not leave out the bread crumbs! The bread crumbs on top, under the broiler for a few, give it that irresistible crust! Such a great contrast with the creamy underneath. That's part of the allure, in addition to the flavor. Oh, and it needs to be eaten in bed. With champagne. And it should be squally outside.

Anonymous said...

I was listening to the local NPR station this morning and they were talking about a bunch of friends having a cassoulet cook-off. Even though it's the same dish, everyone's is a little different.

Mac n'cheese probably has a wider audience though.

Anonymous said...

Make it however you want... then half the cheese and substitute in some parmesan cheese. It totally works! So good.

Emily said...

My tried-and-true recipe is from Real Simple. It's amazing every time. It makes a ton, so I freeze half, and just make more topping when I'm ready for the second helping a few weeks down the line.

Enjoy!

http://food.realsimple.com/realsimple/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1123185

AL said...

Lets go totally whack... and go MACCHEEZYAPPLEPIEDESSERT, in a savoury crusty fine pasta pie-casing with creamy sweet cheese filling with tart apples glazed on top... who is with me on this?!!!

Anonymous said...

sweet life with olives: tuna noodle casserole...oh my god, yum. perfect food for whatever ails you. and a tiny bit less guilt inducing as it has actual protein and veggies in it (peas are a veggie, right?)

Roxanne said...

Mmm, I can't even give you a suggestion because I'm drooling on the key board!

David said...

And don't forget the next day, cut the mac and cheese into half inch slices and fry it in butter until it's crispy and chewy on the edges.

All praise Alton Brown.

Joe's pal Donnie Bong Hit said...

tuna noodle casserole is also awesome: 2 in thick tuna steaks, seared to a dark crust, thick sliced and seared portobello shrooms, Imagine foods cream of shroom soup, spinach fettucini, jarlsberg, a couple of eggs, panko. With a dry riesling. Good? You betcha! ;) Sorry Decorno, I couldn't resist.

Jamie said...

I entered 3 in the Tillamook M&C contest. I personally like Ssssssspicy M&C the best. http://jamieofalltrades.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/08/tillamook-mac-cheese-contest.html

pve design said...

I need to be there, because you and others would enjoy my secret recipe. Great idea. Carbs are needed in tough times.

Anonymous said...

Dec
I do your version but 1 lb macaroni noodles very al dente, 1 pound shredded white cheddar, 1 stick butter, salt, pepper and 1 slice of bacon (that I lay on top just to drizzle yum and then I discard before serving) baked in the oven til it's all melted and a little toasty. Sometimes we make it pink (with a can of crushed italian tomatoes).
simple, delicious.

Black Dog Salvage said...

i keep hearing about this amazing fritos concoction - apparently it's a big hit here in southwest va at the buchanan carnival -it's called a 'petro' - check out www.petros.com :)

inhabit said...

The Martha Stewart Mac n Cheese recipe is the best. I have made it 3 times and have had a TON of compliments and people asking for the recipe - and I am a complete tard in the kitchen. It's definitely a bit labor intensive, but I highly recommend it. It's on her website.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you've had Beecher's Mac & Cheese in the Pike Place Market, but it's fantastic!

Enjoy!

seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/330261_cheeserecipe05.html

Decorno said...

Anon - YES. Love Beecher's!