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!
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cottage cheese (not lowfat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
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.
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?