Mac and Cheese (lots of cheese)

So if you were cooking for someone who had a terrible cold and was very congested and having trouble breathing at night, what would you make? Probably chicken soup or something equally clear and comforting. Probably not Mac and Cheese made with 2.5 pounds of dairy (and 1/2 pounds of pasta). I am not smart sometimes.

But I made poor, suffering Ben this Milk Bomb last week and he’s still alive (and his cold seems to be tapering off), so no long-term harm done.

I remember seeing this mac and cheese recipe in the New York Times a million years ago (back in my Brooklyn days, when I never actually cooked) but I forgot about it until I found it in the Smitten Kitchen archives last week. It is FAST to pull together.

My favorite part of the recipe is how after the ingredients it says things like “Not lowfat.” Thank you, Ms. Moskin!

Creamy Macaroni & Cheese
From the NYTimes via Smitten Kitchen

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cottage cheese (not lowfat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch cayenne
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked.

Lots of Dairy:

Let’s look again at that pound of extra-sharp cheddar (Tillamook: Go Oregon!):

And behold, once again, the magical powers of the Cuisinart’s grating abilities:

A pound of cheese grated perfectly in 30 seconds. Love!

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. Use 1 tablespoon butter to butter a 9-inch round or square baking pan.

2. In a blender, purée cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together.

I blended it with about half the milk to start with, to get the cottage cheese really smooth, then added in the rest. Blending without enough milk made my blender shut itself off several times, oops.

Reserve 1/4 cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta.

Cheese-to-pasta ratio:

Pour into prepared pan…

Fine, that looks unappealing but it will improve!

…cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.

Note that it does NOT say to add on the reserved cheese on top before bundling it into the oven. So it should not have looked like this before I covered it tightly and baked it:

I only realized that once the cheese was on and the thing was in the oven. Too late.

3. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon butter.

Since I’d already put the cheese on, I tried to stir delicately and leave some cheese still on the top, but I pretty much failed. Oh well.

Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

We had large arugula salads on the side to cut the fat. I toasted some walnuts to scatter on top–a favorite combination, since the bitter nuttiness of the arugula goes great with walnuts.

The mac and cheese was very tasty and easy to put together but I’m afraid it didn’t reheat very well–the cheese congeals and the whole thing gets oily, ugh. I think to get a smooth, re-heatable result I’d have to go back to a bechamel technique, no? But if you’re feeding a couple dozen hungry adults (ok, more like 6 or 8…) a pan of this is a nice tasty weeknight dinner. The NYTimes story had an alternate recipe for crusty-toppinged mac and cheese that I might try, or I could try this one again with a topping of breadcrumbs. I am in the crisper-toppings mean better-times camp.

Hopefully it will feel like spring soon, though, and I won’t try out any more heavy mac and cheese recipes until next fall. Please?

11 thoughts on “Mac and Cheese (lots of cheese)”

  1. I totally agree about the mac-and-cheese not reheating well. Usually, we serve it to a crowd so leftovers are not a concern, but still! I have my eye on another recipe that is supposed to stay creamy… soon, I hope!

  2. Did I ever make my mac-n-cheese when we lived together? It has about 4 types of cheese, cream, and is crazy fattening! I top it with garlic/herb chips, those get a little soggy in the reheat, but the rest of it holds up really well! It’s a heart attack in pan, but if you’d like the recipe, I’ll send it!

  3. Yum! That’s our Sunday dinner right there (and we’re also recovering from bronchitis in our house …)

  4. I can actually eat that kind of thing again. And that has nothing at all to do with calories, rather the company I keep.

  5. whoa. looks delightful. love the grating abilities. i think when i sell my car i’ll buy a food processor.

  6. Kate, this looks so decadent!! I just got back from Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes and it was so good! The St. Pat cheese is pressed in nettle leaves and is grassy and creamy and ridiculously wonderful! Needless to say, I ate alot of cheese today….

  7. Heh, everyone loves mac and cheese….

    Erica, please send the recipe! I heard tales of your killer mac and cheese but we never had it.

    Juree: Oh, the jealousy!! I love everything from Cowgirl Creamery… Did you try the Red Hawk (washed rind)? My family get a disk of it at Christmastime every year, and it gets to smelly my dad quarantines it in a cooler in the garage. But it is so. so. good.

  8. My old roommate Jeremy used to do something similar, except he’d use about a half-pound of blue cheese and fresh pasta from the italian deli on Nassau ave.

    Old favorites + high quality ingredients = Shazam!

  9. That mac-n-cheese looks so good, I could cry! I’m nursing and my 8 month old is horribly allergic to milk, so I haven’t had even a sliver of cheese (or any other dairy products) since last summer. I have been dreaming of the day I can have cheese again, and now I know exactly what I’m making when that day comes! MMMMM…. milk bomb! 🙂

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