The Quest for a Quality Macaroni Dish

So I’m going to pretend that last night’s culinary escapade didn’t happen (officially. unofficially, you learn more from failure than success) and move straight on. Life is like a river, loyal readers (do we have any of those yet?). It flows ever forth.

The Arlington Public Library had a book sale this weekend. I’m a bit of a book whore, I have to admit (love knowledge), so I went twice. My partner in crime Heather and I were having a discussion earlier in the week about how neither of us really had a quality macaroni and cheese recipe under our belt. We were both raised on the out-the-box variety: me the classic blue box, Heather the classier, more sophisticated deluxe kind. Coincidentally on my first visit to the book sale, I came across Macaroni And Cheese for the low low price of a dollar. Feeling this was fate, I took this book home with me.
Simple Mac and Cheese Ingredients
I’ve not given this book the time it deserves for a proper review, but it definitely looks promising. It starts off with a brief about why macaroni and cheese is awesome (as if you didn’t know this by now) followed by a mini-guide on the different kinds of cheeses and pastas along with how to put it all together. Despite the name, no seasoned cook should expect to find any secrets here but beginners may find this useful. The remainder of the book is broken into five chapters for the varying categories of mac & cheese: Easy and Cheesy, Soups and Salads, Stove-Top Mac and Cheese, Baked Mac and Cheese, Sweets. The photography is excellent and this is not one of those cookbooks leaving you frustrated; wishing there were more photos of the dishes (hate. those. books). You can expect a photograph every two to three recipes.
Eager to try a recipe out but still nursing bruised confidence after last night’s adventure, I opted for the first recipe from the Easy and Cheesy Recipe: Alpine Macaroni and Appenzeller with Crème Fraîche. This was a recipe with a very cheesy texture but not an overly cheesy taste. With only an eight item ingredient list this recipe, was not overly complicated and instead focused on simplicity. Perfect.
Alpine Macaroni and Gruyère with Crème Fraîche
Alpine Macaroni and Gruyère with Crème Fraîche
adapted from Macaroni & Cheese (I cut the recipe in half)

6 ounces elbow macaroni
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, chopped
5-6 ounces Gruyère, shredded/grated (possible alternatives: Appenzeller, Emmenthal, Comtè)
2 ounces crème fraiche (or more if desired)
a grating nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
salt a pepper to taste

Cook the pasta as you cook all pasta: in a rapidly boiling pot of salted water until al dente. Reserve half a cup of the liquid.
Put a bit of the water back into the pot first to prevent burning followed by the pasta, garlic, shallot, cheese, crème fraiche, nutmeg and butter. Toss gently. If too thick or dry, add more water. If the cheese doesn’t melt turn the heat on low briefly and continue to toss.

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4 Responses to “The Quest for a Quality Macaroni Dish”

  1. Surge says:

    black truffles!!!1 I’m telling you any macaroni cheese hybrid needs black truffles.

  2. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I too have been on a hunt for a really knock-your-socks-off mac & cheese recipe.

    I'm enjoying the blog so far, keep it up!

    Therese (Mathieu's wife) 🙂

  3. Chef Edwin says:

    Thanks for the positive feedback. I’ll be sure to post the one that blows me away.

    Perhaps it will have black truffles…

  4. paul says:

    Adult Mac and Cheese – Amazing and worth the cost. Add crumbled bacon to the top and leave out the tomatoes!