Monday, October 22, 2007

Comfort Food Sunday

I got one of those sample issues of Cooks Illustrated in the mail on Saturday, and I happened to grab it on our way out the door to go meeting and greeting with PupCake yesterday, just so I'd have something to occupy myself on the ride to PetSmart. Now, I like Cooks Illustrated and I very much enjoy watching its companion show on PBS, America's Test Kitchen, but the magazine is not really the kind of publication I want to subscribe to just because I'm more of a recipes-as-inspiration kind of girl vs. someone who needs the nitty gritty basics that CI tends to focus on. I do really like their scientific, trial and error approach to perfecting recipes, however, and I think their equipment reviews are excellent.
Anyway, as I said I had their lovely free issue in the car with me and as it turns out it was the perfect solution to what to make for dinner last night.
I've been craving good old homemade mac and cheese, and my handy free issue of Cooks had an excellent version that seemed like the perfect Sunday dinner dish that I could gather for on the fly:
The recipe is called Baked Four-Cheese and Pasta Casserole, and it uses four types of cheese and a very tiny bit of roux mixed with heavy cream for a weak bechamel. What makes it a standout, for me anyway, is that the pasta ends up in the perfect state of al dente instead of overcooked and mushy like is so often the case with other mac and cheese recipes, a bit of magic executed by undercooking the pasta (mine got 7 of it's required 11 minutes in the water), tossing it together with the bechamel and cheeses and then letting it finish up cooking with a quick, seven minute blast in a hot (500) oven. Even better, it was really simple and quick to throw together unlike other, delicious yet labor intensive mac and cheese recipes I've tried. Like this one (amazing and OH SO rich) or, if you're feeling really, really naughty, this one which I think I've raved about before and is one of my holiday stand-bys.
As I said, the Cooks recipe calls for four cheeses: 4oz. of Italian Fontina, 3oz. Gorgonzola, 1oz. Pecornio Romano, and 1/2oz. Parm, and both Boy and I found that Gorgonzola was definitely the predominant flavor. It worked great for us blue lovers, but I think if I was making this recipe for guests or other non-stinky, moldy cheese eaters (of which there seem to be many...something I completely don't understand), I'd rearrange those proportions a bit to sub out all but a little bit of the Gorgonzola.
It looks like the recipe is available on the Cooks Illustrated website if you're willing to register for a 14 day free trial.

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