Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese

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Who’s not a mac and cheese fan, right? Well, I certainly am, and I got the gift of a mac and cheese cookbook for Christmas this year, so I’ve been on a kick. Not healthy, but wow is it delicious. (Gift or curse? I’ve been debating.) This cookbook is by the chefs at Homeroom restaurant in Oakland, California. Their specialty is mac and cheese (obviously). It has all kinds of variations on the original, and they are all amazing. This one features goat cheese, one of my favorites — it’s rich and creamy and tart, and the bread crumbs on top give it a nice crunch.

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The key to this mac and cheese is the béchamel sauce that serves as the base. And the key to the sauce is constant whisking. Add the milk slowly, whisk until incorporated, and add more. This is the perfect meal for a cold night or when you just want some comfort food. It’s amazing!

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TW’s Tips

  • The mac sauce recipe makes three cups, and the mac and cheese recipe only calls for two cups, so remember not to add the whole bunch. I’ve done this several times!
  • Don’t use anything besides whole milk. It won’t work.
  • I use the trusty Le Creuset for this — makes for easy clean-up and really easy to transfer to the oven to crisp the breadcrumbs.

Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound dried elbow pasta
  • 2 cups mac sauce (recipe below)
  • 6 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup grated Jack cheese
  • 4 green onions (green and light green parts), sliced
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until a little less than al dente. Drain, rinse the pasta with cold water, and drain again.

Add the sauce (remember only two cups!), cheese and green onions to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and cook over low heat until the goat cheese is barely melted, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cooked pasta.

Pour the cheese noodle mixture into a large baking dish. Top evenly with panko and bake until you see the cheese sauce bubbling up the sides, 10 to 15 minutes.

Spoon into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.

Mac Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt

Directions

Heat the milk in a pot over medium heat until it just starts to bubble, but is not boiling, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a separate, heavy-bottomed pot. When the butter has just melted, add the four and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Slowly pour the warm milk, about 1 cup at a time, into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly. It will get very thick when you first add the milk, and thinner as you slowly pour in the entire 3 cups. This is normal.

Once all the milk has been added, set the pot back over medium-high heat, and continue to whisk constantly. In the next 2 to 3 minutes, the sauce should come together and become silky and thick. Add the salt.

The mac sauce is ready to use immediately and does not need to cool. Store it in the fridge for a day or two if you want to make it ahead of time. It will get a lot thicker when put in the fridge, so it may need a little milk to thin it out a bit when it comes time to melt in the cheese. Try melting the cheese into the sauce first and if it is too thick then add milk as needed.

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