We Must Save the Macaroni and Cheese

One morning I was lying in bed, sort of awake but mostly asleep, listening to an NPR interview discussing the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear”. It was a pretty big event here in Austin. The interviewer asked the interviewee for his opinion on popular news being bad for people. The interviewee answered that it wasn’t the sources who were bad, but the people who took all their news from sources like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” (which is when I stopped smushing my face into the pillow and became coherent). “Oh no,” I thought, “that’s me.”

“Wait,” I said to my ceiling, “as enjoyable as those shows are I often forget to watch them. I didn’t even make it through all of the “Rally to Restore Sanity”. Nope. I get my news from other sources, too like “Saturday Night Live” and “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me”.

Which is how I know that the cheese needs to be saved. We must eat more cheese. That’s right according to the ever-vigilant news team at “Wait, Wait…” our country has a cheese surplus. Do you know what happens to surplus? It’s thrown out, destroyed. Nooooooo!

Well, destroyed once they figure out how to destroy it. Shredding was tried. Then incineration. Both had their drawbacks. Think about it… Not really. You guys are so gullible — that’s why critics decry entertainment news.

Then I realized that technically I was listening to NPR’s Morning Edition aka Serious News. Sure, many times it’s this gradual day long taking in when people ask me “did you hear about…” or “I can’t believe about…” and I feel that the extraordinary news does seem vaguely familiar. By night I’ve usually got it figured out “Yes,” I respond, “I did hear about…” But, of course, by then that person isn’t there to hear.

It’s still a technicality.

We really must eat more cheese. Perhaps with macaroni.

I realize all the rage is to sneak vegetables into dishes such as this one, but this is one time when I am not inclined. If anything, I want bacon or hot sausage and lots of spice. I want to experiment with goat, gorgonzola, smoked gouda, pumpernickel bread crumbs, chili infusions and beer.

Macaroni and 3-Cheese
(liberally adapted from Cheesemonger’s Mac and Cheese found on epicurious.com)

½ pound pasta (your choice, but in this instance I prefer a twisted shape)
heaping ½ cup each of three cheeses, diced plus one large handful of all three cheeses, grated and set aside (I used extra sharp cheddar, monterrey jack and camembert)
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
large sprinkling thyme
small sprinkling ground nutmeg
black pepper to taste
2 handfuls breadcrumbs

Cook pasta until not quite done. Drain and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan, add in breadcrumbs and cook until toasted. Set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, a few minutes. Add thyme and nutmeg. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook stirring occasionally, until thickened, a few minutes more. (I have no idea how thick this is supposed to be. Going into it I pictured gravy, but it didn’t seem to be getting to that point, so I decided that slightly thickened was good enough.) Add in cheese and cook until melted.

Heat oven to 375°.

Toss cheese sauce with pasta and transfer to baking dish or individual dishes of choice. Top with grated cheese. Top with breadcrumbs. Bake until bubbling and brown.

A couple notes. Topping with breadcrumbs seems to be a classic move, but in the future, I think, I’ll leave them off. Second, you only have to dice and grate the cheeses if you don’t pay attention. You could grate it all (well not soft cheeses) and just remember to set some aside for the topping. And last, since we are saving the cheese, you might put in extra.

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