Nathan got really mad at me for this one. He's always suggesting we make mac and cheese, and I'm never in the mood and then he gets cranky and accuses me of cruelly withholding his favorite thing that I cook. And then a couple of weeks ago, I made mac and cheese without him. Oops. When he gets back to the states I'm going to have to welcome him with a big cheesy American style pasta dish to make up for it. Maybe I'll go uber traditional and use elbows. Or maybe I'll make it Italian style and add pepperoni and sundried tomatoes. We shall see.
This mac had five cheeses plus bacon and onions. I didn't deviate much from my previously described method. (If you are looking for more mac ideas, Mark Bittman unsurprisingly has some great ones, or you could make Gordon Ramsay's.) I made a cheesy bechamel sauce with butter, flour, a spash of hot sauce, a dash of worcestershire sauce, some salt and pepper, shredded parmesan and grated romano. I fried a couple of slices of bacon and some sliced onions. I cooked up a pound of orecchiette until tender and then mixed that into the sauce with the bacon and onions. I think I also added some little slices of garlic scape. I layered the pasta mixture with grated cheddar, monteray jack and gouda cheeses, and topped with breadcrumbs and extra of all five cheeses. Then I baked it in Laura's cast iron skillet. When we inevitably part ways as roommates, I will miss that the most. Like, aside from her, obviously.
macaroni and cheese
It was pretty good. Orecchiette is one of my favorite pastas, but I think it might be a little too thick and chewy for macaroni and cheese. I'm afraid that the pasta on top got a bit dried out and tough. Otherwise, it was delicious. Obviously a little smokey bacon and sweet onion take things up a notch,and the bacon and gouda really complimented one another well.
skillet baked mac and cheese
I also tried to pair it with a fried goat cheese salad. This didn't end up working out so well, so the horribly out of focus photo is somewhat appropriate. That isn't to say it wasn't tasty, just that I didn't wind up with the beautiful and neat little crisp golden goat cheese cakes that the recipe's author promised...
fried goat cheese in a lemon mayo dressing
As you can see, the breading burned and kept sticking to the pan, and I had to kind of stick it back onto the cheese... And it looked so good, too! In retrospect, it's probably my fault though. I didn't feel like breaking out the eggs, so I just rolled my freezer-firmed goat cheese rounds in bread crumbs and tried to fry them up in a hot pan of melted butter. I bet the egg would have helped everything stick together better. Obviously goat cheese + butter + bread crumbs still = TASTY, but it was a good deal messier and far less attractive looking than I would have hoped.
What was just a perfect as I imagined it would be was the dressing: olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, homemade mayonnaise, white vinegar and dijon mustard. Salt and pepper to taste. If I had had poppy seeds, I certainly would have added them, but this dressing was delicious even without them. Very bright and fresh, it tasted delicious over food co-op greens and some of my never ending $1 radishes.