While recipes come and go, our favorite Mac and Cheese recipe is courtesy of Mr Franey. No Velvetta in this one. Lots of very nice Gruyere, red peppers and ham sauted in butter, and red pepper for some kick. This is a very grown up Mac and Cheese.
With our kids finally getting to the age where we can contemplate food with flavor and varied texture again, fired up a patch of Mr Franey's Mac and Cheese for the first time in over a decade.
Recipe is appended, and highly recommended as we move into the fall...
For this recipe, I like to use a really nice ham, like what you get at Honey Baked Ham. Try to under cook the noodles slightly, since it will continue to cook in the sauce and in the oven. When you saute the onions and peppers and ham, you can give the whole dish a very nice roasted flavor, but be careful not to burn. The Gruyere and ham were really meant for each other, esp. with the freshly ground nutmeg to bring it all together (these three flavors really make the dish). You can't have too much Gruyere in this dish (in the heavily French accented words of Mr Franey, "I Love Gruyere!").
Pierre Franey's Grown Up Mac and Cheese
(from the NYT 60 Minute Gourmet)
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
2 sweet red peppers, cored/seeded and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 lb country ham, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Red pepper flakes to takes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 pound Gruyere cut into small cubes
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil, and add the macaroni. Stir frequently, and cook until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet. Add onions and red peppers. Cook and stir until wilted. Add the ham, cook briefly, stirring.
4. Add the milk, cream, salt and pepper, red-pepper flakes, nutmeg, the drained macaroni and the Gruyere cheese. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens.
5. Place the mixture into a flat baking dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
6. Place in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Place under the broiler until nice and brown.
Yield: 4 servings.