Thursday, August 6, 2009

Anthony's Baked Mac n' Cheese

Anthony gets requests to make mac and cheese a lot. Mostly my nieces and nephews want it to come to their birthdays. He also made it this past weekend when we were in Valdez for his high school reunion. Lindsey wanted a copy of the recipe too. I said I'd blog it. Here is Aman's mac!

Anthony's Baked Mac n' Cheese
1 box (16 oz) dry cavatappi pasta*
1 pint heavy cream
2 tbsp. butter
2 eggs
24 oz. of cheese**
1 slice of bread (white, sourdough, oat, wheat...nothing crazy like rye)

NOTE: If you want more like a boxed mac n' cheese and not a baked mac
n' cheese, see the "TIP" below. You won't need the egg or slice of

Boil the pasta in salted water until done. While hot, toss in the
butter to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.

Shred all cheeses together in a large bowl (unless you are using
mozzarella**, in which case, set aside). Turn shredded cheeses over a
couple times to mix.

Heat half of the cream in a deep sauce pan on medium-high until
beginning to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and add in half of total
cheese a handful at a time until each handful is melted, stirring
constantly. Cheese sauce should be thick, but not an
alfredo sauce. If sauce becomes too thick or stretchy, add a little
more cream. Alternatively, if sauce is too watery, add more cheese.

Pour cheese sauce over noodles and stir together.

TIP: If you don't want a baked mac n' cheese, this is where you can
stop. Just garnish with some of the shredded cheese and a little
pepper. It is perfectly tasty at this point. Put the extra cheese and
cream away for something else.

Set the sauced noodles aside. In another bowl, whisk eggs, some dashes
of salt/pepper and remaining cream together until slightly foamy.
Slowly stir cold liquid into pasta and sauce mixture.

Set about a cup or two of the shredded cheese aside for topping (if
you are using mozzarella, now is the time to combine with your other
cheeses**). In noodle mixture, fold in the remaining shredded cheese
(other than your topping cheese).

Pack the cheesy noodles into a ceramic or glass baking pan. A
rectangular lasagna pan is usually a good size. Cube your slice of
bread and evenly distribute the cubes over the top. Sprinkle remaining
topping cheese over the whole thing.

Bake covered in foil for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees. Uncover
and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes until the cheese and croutons
are browned.

Serve fresh and hot!

TIP: This is a great base recipe if you want to make a meal out of it.
For example, mix in cooked chicken and broccoli for a more rounded


* If needed, substitute pastas like elbow macaroni or rotini that are
more rigid. Avoid shells, bowties, egg noodle, etc. that become
formless in casserole.

** The trick is to have at least 16 oz. of your cheese be the sharpest
cheddar you can find. I prefer 8 oz. of extra sharp white cheddar and
8 oz. of extra sharp New York cheddar. For the 3rd 8 oz. You can use
either more sharp cheddar or something smoother like monterey jack.
You can use shredded mozzarella, but if so, only use it as the mix-in
or topping. DO NOT use it in the sauce mixture. Mozzarella is
notoriously bad at binding with the cream or other melted cheeses and
will instead make your sauce separate into bad textures.

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