With a Plate of Mac & Cheese
As a kid, I watched Home Alone so many times, I knew all the lines by heart. My most favorite line was “Keep the change, you filthy animal”, you know, the one from the fictitious gangster movie “Angels with Filthy Wings”. But we’re not here for the trivia; we’re searching for food.
There’s pizza, a lot of it in fact, which is plausible since the movie revolves around a seven year old. There’s also a variety of candy and there’s this one scene I remember I was obsessed with, not knowing what Kevin was actually having – it was in fact a bowl of ice cream topped with a copious amount of sugar infused candy.
And then there’s mac & cheese. On the night of the break in, Kevin sits down to have dinner and before he does so, he says a little prayer: “Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.”
I can see what the writer did there, choosing this specific meal. I mean yes, sure, it’s an American staple, it’s even TV Dinner material and since it was microwavable, it could definitely be cooked by a seven year old on his own, but it’s also comfort food. And a kid that’s been left behind by his whole family, living across the street from what he believes is a cold blooded assasin and waiting for two criminals to come and break into his home is reason enough to be craving for a little comfort.
I wanted to make the kind of macaroni and cheese Kevin’s mom would have cooked to make it up for forgetting him home. Since I am not quite what the French call “les incompetents” when it comes to putting a meal together, I have made mac and cheese from scratch, with a lovely twist that includes a couple of fine cheeses, to make up for the store bought version Kevin is having.
This dish is a delight, it’s hearty and rich, really quite perfect for winter nights.
Artisanal Macaroni & Cheese:
Kosher salt, to taste
500 gr/17oz penne rigate
90gr/6 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup dried bread crumbs
80gr/1 cup finely grated Parmesan
30gr/¼ cup flour
800ml/3½ cups milk
115gr/4 oz./1½ cups grated Gruyère
115gr/4 oz./1½ cups grated Comté
115gr/4 oz./1½ cups grated fontina
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Start by heat oven to 180C/350F. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook just shy of becoming al dente, approximately 7 minutes. Drain pasta, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
Melt 3 tbsp. of the butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over low heat. Add the bread crumbs and Parmesan, toss to combine, and transfer to a small bowl; set aside.
Wipe out the saucepan and set over medium heat to make the cheese mixture. Melt the remaining butter and whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the milk and cook, continuing to whisk often, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Stir in the Gruyère, 1 cup of the Comté, and 1 cup of the fontina and whisk until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat and stir in the reserved pasta. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and top with the remaining Comté and fontina. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over the top and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from here