Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Reader Side Dish question

Wow, just a few hours after the Wall Street Journal article mentioning me came out, I got this question from a new reader:

Hi Mark,
Nice article! A question about a pasta side dish for tomorrow. I want to make a pasta for the kids and teens who don't like the traditional Thanksgiving fare. I have a recipe for Four Cheese Al Forno and one for creamy Macaroni and Cheese. I want to use the Four Cheese one as my base (which is a much drier, baked pasta and cheese than "Kraft Style" mac & cheese) but use some of the milk & cheddar from the creamy one so I end up with something in between. Do you think that is just going not come out right or taste good? Should I stick with one or the other?
Bob C.

Hi Bob,

If your Mac 'n ' Cheese recipe uses as a base a bechamel type sauce, you can use that to make the whole dish creamier. Here's what I would do:

In a medium saucepan, mix 3 Tbsp flour with 1 1/2 cups milk until there are no lumps. Add 1 Tbsp butter and a dash of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens slightly. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1/4 pound Fontina cheese, a little nutmeg, and a splash of vermouth until sauce is smooth and the cheese melts. You can then mix this with the cooked pasta, THEN add your other cheeses before you bake it in the oven. Let the bechamel cheese sauce coat the pasta, cool it a little and keep the other cheeses from melting until you bake it. I would stay away from cheddar in this dish, and focus on the italian style cheeses.


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