Friday, December 21, 2012

Crusty Macaroni and Cheese

Crusty Mac 'n Cheese, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I'm always on the look-out for The Best Mac 'n Cheese recipe, even when I'm not. Those two words, macaroni and cheese, seem to be on my radar whether I like it or not. Every trip to a grocery store will generally include one bag of dried pasta. I have a pantry box full of pastas...most of which is elbow macaroni.
A few years ago, it was a very focused search for a mac 'n cheese recipe that sparked my cooking OCD adventure and ultimately birthed this blog .  I discovered  my two greatest sources of little kitchen inspiration: Smitten Kitchen and America's Test Kitchen. Only just now, when I went back to link that Smitten Kitchen mac 'cheese recipe and re-read that post -that- started- it -all, did I notice that smitten was bitten by the same mac 'n cheese bug I just was.
I did not have mac 'n cheese on the agenda when I started my pot of water to boil (I do this frequently) the other night.   Whilst the water was heating, only then did I take notice of  an uncharacteristic accumulation of cheeses in the fridge (cheeses rarely get the chance to accumulate). Suddenly the stars begin to align and I spy CookFight, sitting right there on my kitchen table and waaaaiiit-a-minute...wasn't there a recipe hour later Julia Moskin's Crusty Macaroni and Cheese was all mine. As it turns out, Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Easiest Baked Macaroni and Cheese was all about the companion mac 'n cheese recipe to this verysame Julia Moskin recipe.
The recipe originally appeared in the New York Times in January 2006 with this article and went on to become one of the the NYT most emailed and forwarded articles. It stirred up a Mac 'n Cheese contraversy as one editor called it "Julia Moskin's Discusting Macaroni and Cheese" because of the "obscene"(as if there is such a thing) amount of cheese the recipe requires (24 ounces). The cheese pretty much stands alone here. A mere 2/3 cup of milk is sprinkled over the top before it goes into the oven.
The recipe simply calls for american and cheddar cheese. The dryness of a sharp cheddar needed for flavor is balanced by a softer, moister, gooier, melty cheese. I didn't have any american cheese. I pulled out my kitchen scale and commenced to shredding my refrigerator rescue cheese assortment ( sharp cheddar, mozzarella, gruyere, parmesan and blue cheese) until the scale hit 24.
When all was said and done, the results were amazing and the next time I'll actually plan this with the two simple cheeses.
I love how the universe works.

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