As most of you know by now, I’m slightly (ok, extremely) obsessed with the Barefoot Contessa.
That’s why when my equally Barefoot Contessa-obsessed aunt, Ellen, called me a few years ago and told me there was a recipe I absolutely, positively had to make, I was riddled with excitement and anticipation.
And so, then and there, I whipped up the most decadent, delicious, diet-breaking recipe ever: Barefoot Contessa’s Mac & Cheese!
I’ve always been a big fan of comfort foods, and mac & cheese is a noteworthy staple. Once you try Ina’s Mac & Cheese, though, you will never go back.
Since I’ll be preparing this dish for Super Bowl Sunday (an annual tradition), I thought I’d share the secret with you. Make it. Eat it. Love it. (and please don’t even try to count the calories).
Mac & Cheese
serves 6 to 8
1 lb elbow macaroni or cavatappi (those delicious corkscrews)
1 quart of milk
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere Cheese (4 cups)
8 oz. extra sharp cheedar (I like using the white kind) (2 cups)
1/2 tsp. grated black pepper
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 lb fresh tomatoes (I’ve made the recipe with and without these)
1 and 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (or from the can, if you feel lazy)
Preheat oven to 375
Boil a large pot of water. Add salt and oil once boiling. Cook pasta according to directions on the package or slightly al dente. Drain.
Here’s the tricky part: you need 2 saucepans to create the sauce
Heat the milk in a small saucepan without boiling it.
In a large pot melt 6 tbs. of the butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat while stirring with a whisk. According to Ina, this takes out the flour taste. While whisking, add the hot milk (inevitably this will be messy, aprons are not your enemy). Cook for a few minutes until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Remove it from the heat and add the cheeses. * Note here: my aunt sometimes reverses the amount of each cheese–using more cheddar than Gruyere. I like the gruyere as a dominant flavor but it is a little stronger with more bite. The more you make it, the more you can try to vary the proportions of the cheeses until you have it just right. * Add 1 tbs. salt along with the pepper and the nutmeg. Lastly, add in the cooked pasta and stir.
Pour the mixture into a 3 quart baking dish. (This is usually the point where I start eating the pre-baked mac & cheese and have to convince myself to put it in the oven so other people can eventually enjoy too). This is also the point where you can refrigerate the mixture, covered, until you are officially ready to bake.
Place the sliced tomatoes on top. (Totally optional if you are feeling like they would be a healthy afront to the dish). Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until sauce is bubbly and slightly browned on top.
Recipe courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa.
Eat it in good health (or right after a very hard work out).