Monday, September 23, 2013

Baked Three Cheese Mac n' Cheese

Crappy Phone Photo. Oops.

As a married couple, one thing we've never been able to agree upon is mac n' cheese. It's one of my favorite, favorite foods. And there are just so! many! options! If Graham would agree to it, I'd put it on the menu once a week. Since he won't, and I can't, I really have to save it for days when I'm dining alone, or when it's just Hannah and I for dinner. These days are actually really special, and they're few and far between, so we can eat together and talk, and I get to make something I know we'll both enjoy that I so rarely get to make.

I've had this bookmarked for a while, and when Google Reader went under, I took that as a chance to purge my favorites and saved links. When I saw this one and realized I had a dinner alone coming my way, I jumped at the chance to make it.

While Hannah can be a picky eater, she loves mac n' cheese. This wasn't her favorite, but I sure as hell enjoyed it. I was running late and didn't have the chance to play with lighting and props and crap, but trust me, once this comes out of the oven, you won't care about any of that. You'll just want it in your belly.

Three Cheese Mac n' Cheese
(Adapted from Food & Wine, September 2010, as seen on Cook Like A Champion (Her pictures are prettier than this one.))

1 lb. penne rigate
1 1/2 c. heavy cream, divided
4 T. finely diced yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 T. all-purpose flour
5 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
3 oz. sharp white cheddar, shredded
1/2 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese, divided plus more for garnish
2 T. sour cream
3/4 tsp. lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, divided
Salt & pepper
1 large or extra-large egg yolk

Heat oven to 400* F. Butter a large, 10 in. cast-iron skillet (or butter a heavy-duty baking dish) and set aside.

Bring water for pasta to a  boil. Cook penne until juuuuuuuust al dente. Drain and return to pot.

While water is boiling/pasta is cooking, in a medium saucepan, mix together 1 c. cream, onion, and garlic. Bring to a simmer. In a measuring cup, mix remaining 1/2 c. cream with flour and whisk together. Pour into saucepan with cream & onion.Over moderate heat, cook until thickened, whisking constantly, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the goat cheese, cheddar, and 1/4 c. parmesan cheese. Stir until melted, and mix in the sour cream, 1 tsp. thyme, and lemon zest. Season well with salt and pepper.

Place the egg yolk in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in 1/2 c. of the cheese sauce. Gradually whisk the egg mixture back into the cheese sauce. Pour the combined, thickened sauce into the pot with your cooked pasta and mix extremely well. Pour pasta into your prepped skillet and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 400* F. for approximately 25 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown on top. Sprinkle with remaining thyme and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot and pass additional parmesan if preferred.

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