Monday, October 19, 2009

Fancy Macaroni and Cheese

This is neither macaroni and cheese nor is it "fancy", however, that is what my husband called it, so there you have it. It will now forever be referred to as Fancy Macaroni and Cheese.

This is a recipe off the Food Network. It's from Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis. I can remember watching the episode when she made this. It had to have been three or four years ago. Honestly though, I doubt that lady eats any of this because she's so darn skinny! And judging by the ingredients in this, you would have to have some meat on your bones.

Just looking at the picture makes me wonder how anyone can stay skinny while eating this?
However, I should point out that there are ways of making it lighter should you feel the need. Don't use as much butter as it calls for, use lean ham instead of the proscuitto, use fat-free or 1% milk rather than the whole milk. You catch my drift. Plus, you can always eat a smaller serving (surrrrre, try that, I dare you.) if you don't want to feel guilty.

This recipe's base is a bechamel sauce, which is generally a roux with a little cheese added. If you don't know what a roux is, it's butter and flour with some milk to make a white sauce. I recently made another macaroni and cheese recipe using a roux. It's not a hard task to accomplish. Knowing how to make a roux will give you the baseline to make pretty much any mac and cheese you want. The cheese is a fontina, which is delicious! It isn't your typical cheddar which many macaroni and cheese dishes use. See? Look at all these concepts that prove that this is not macaroni and cheese! Plus, it uses rigatoni pasta and not elbows.

The only downside to making this is having patience to wait for the milk to thicken. Honestly, considering how easy the rest of the recipe is, waiting 10 minutes is no big deal. And hopefully you have an easier time julienne'ing (is that a word?) the prosciutto. Mine looked like a pile o' ham rather than neat strips. It worked out in the end. I just broke it up as it went into the pan.

Enjoy! This is creamy, rich and delicious! It isn't too bad heated up the next day as lunch leftovers either.

Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 quart whole milk at room temperature
pinch of nutmeg
sea salt and white pepper
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, julienned
1 pound rigatoni
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

1. In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth (about 2 minutes). Always stirring, gradually add the milk and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (10 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in nutmeg, 1/2 cup cheese, prosciutto and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. In a large pot, boil water, add rigatoni and cook until al dente. Drain. Return pasta to the pot and pour in bechamel sauce. Mix well.

3. Pour into a greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Smooth out top and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup fontina. Dot the top with the diced butter and bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

I love that my picture looks pretty darn close to the one on the Food Network website. I must have done something right!