Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Save it for the Girlfriends Mac'n'Cheese

This, my friends, is called "Save it for the Girlfriends" macaroni and cheese...

As in, this is not your "from a box" mac'n'cheese that your children beg for every night.  In fact, I'm going to tell you right now - do not make this for your kids and hubby.  Don't do it, I'm trying to save you here.  This is not the kind of mac'n'cheese they expect or will appreciate.  You know, there are just some things you save for the girlfriends.  Like those cutesy Sandra Lee table-scapes.  And asking how your new haircut looks.  And Oprah reruns.

Your husband and kids will look at it and say "What are those black thingys?" with a wrinkled little nose and "I don't like the crumbly stuff...blech."  And then you will once again wonder why, oh why, did you waste your evening trying to glorify mac'n'cheese when you could have spent 10 minutes and $1 making it from the box and they would have eaten it happily instead of sneaking peanut butter crackers and yogurt...

But this is the kind of upscale mac'n'cheese perfect for book club or a luncheon or any other time you can get together with the girlfriends and a glass of wine.  This rich and creamy fancy pasta with the meaty texture of the sliced baby portobello mushrooms and surprising light sweet bursts of corn topped with everybody's favorite crumbled bacon, Parmesan and breadcrumb topping will be just the comfort food for chatting with the girls who will think you are a culinary genius.
So here's your pasta to start - cook the whole box according to directions.  I used Campanella because it looks so fancy and all those curls hold the cream sauce so perfectly.  Put in a large colandar and let drain while you cook the rest.
1 small package baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
16 oz. frozen kernel corn
2 cloves garlic
fresh chopped chives
1 tablespoon butter

While your pasta is boiling, in a medium skillet melt butter and saute mushrooms, garlic and chives until soft and slightly browned.  Add frozen corn and continue cooking until the corn is heated.  Better sample to make sure its heated all the way...  Remove from skillet and set aside in another container.

Crumb Topping
1/2 lb cooked bacon, diced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup Parmesan

In your same skillet, re-crisp your bacon.  As soon as the bacon grease starts gathering in the pan, throw in your bread crumbs and butter and stir well until the bread crumbs are coated with the butter/grease.  Continue toasting until the bread crumbs start to dry out and toast and the bacon is crispy.  Remove from the heat and let stand while you make your sauce.  Try to keep your sneaky fingers out of the bacon.  Add your Parmesan right before you put it on top of the pasta.

Creamy Cheese Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk or half-and-half
2 cups cheese
salt and pepper

In a large pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter.  Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir until a paste forms.  Slowly whisk in cream and milk or half-and-half.  You can use 1 cup of milk if you like but let's face it, girlfriend night is about indulgence so just go for it already.  Continue to whisk until all the flour paste has incorporated and the cream is boiling.  Boil for 1 minute or until sauce begins to thicken.  Whisk in cheese.  Now let me just pause and talk about the cheese for a minute.  Sometimes it matters what kind of cheese you use and sometimes it doesn't.  This is one of those times you can use whatever you have.  If I were planning better I would have had 2 cups of my favorite colby jack - but I didn't.  So I used 1 cup of colby jack, about 1/2 a cup of mozzarella and 6 slices of *gasp* cheapo sliced American.  I promise you can not tell the difference.  So back to the sauce...once you whisk in the cheese, turn off your heat and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth.

Dump your veggies and pasta into the sauce and mix until well coated.  Dump the whole thing into a 13x9x2 baking dish and top with the bacon/breadcrumb mixture.  Pop it in at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until the crust is nicely toasted.
This is so rich you will want to serve it with a nice salad and possibly another light veggie dish - I did a yogurt/cucumber salad (recipe is coming...).  Enjoy!


momto8 said...

oh my gosh!! who would not like this?! yum yum!! I have all the ingredients in my fridge right now..and I was wondering that to do with the portable mushrooms besides grilling...thanks!!!!

Julie said...

This looks fantastic! I love that you added mushrooms! I'd love for you to share this on my Marvelous Mondays party. http://www.jamscorner.com/search/label/Monday%20Party

Newest follower via GFC. I'd love for you to check out my cooking/DIY blog and follow back!


Full Circle Creations said...

This looks absolutely yummy. I am definitely going to try it! Thanks for sharing at the All Star Block Party!


heather @ new house, new home, new life said...

Wow - this looks amazing. I'm always looking for a way to dress up mac n cheese.

Thanks for sharing this on the All Star Block Party

Unknown said...

This looks delish! Though I would have to skip the mushrooms since, well, I just can't eat them. Thanks for sharing on tout It Tuesday! Hope to see you tomorrow.