Thursday, August 9, 2012

Grown-up “Instant” Mac and Cheese

Sometimes you just need a little comfort, and what is more comforting than homemade macaroni and cheese. The only problem is it takes time to make a batch of creamy, rich, cheesy goodness. Of course, there’s the boxed instant stuff, but that just doesn’t bring the comfort that comes with homemade. Beside, didn’t we love that as kids? Maybe it’s time for a mac and cheese that is both fast and grown-up.

I first got the idea for this recipe from another food blog. That recipe called for 1-percent milk and shredded cheddar cheese. I decided to give it a try.

Epic fail!

It was watery and the cheese stuck together in one big goopy mass. We won’t even discuss the taste.

So I decided to try it again, but this time with cheese that likes to melt into a smooth creamy sauce. It just so happened I had some gruyere and goat cheese in the fridge. This recipe could be made with just about any cheese as long as it’s one of the good melting kinds such as provolone, Monterrey jack, fontina, or even cream cheese. But I liked the sophisticated taste of the gruyere and goat cheeses.

To make the mac and cheese even creamier, I swapped the milk for cream. And I sprinkled in a pinch of cayenne pepper for heat and nutmeg because it pairs well with the nuttiness of the gruyere.

The end result was a rich, creamy bowl full of cheesy pasta perfect for a mid-day respite or a warming dinner with a glass of wine.  

Grown-up “Instant” Mac and Cheese
Serves 1

1/3 cup elbow macaroni
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup shredded gruyere and goat cheese
Pinch each of cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt and pepper

Put the pasta and water into a microwave-safe bowl. Place into the microwave and heat on high 2 minutes. (Water may boil over the sides of the bowl, so place a paper towel underneath, just in case.) Stir and heat another 2 minutes. The water will absorb into the pasta. If the water hasn’t completely absorbed, heat at additional 1-minute intervals until done, stirring after each minute. If the pasta isn’t to your liking and the water as completely absorbed, add an additional tablespoon of water. (Mine took 6 minutes total, but the time will depend on the strength of your microwave.)

Add the cream, cheese, and seasonings. Microwave for another 1 minute, stirring after each 30 seconds, until the cheese has melted. Let stand for 1 minute, stir, and eat!

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