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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mac & Cheese

Inspiration:  Homemade pasta

I have made mac & cheese before but, I have to admit, making your own noodles is quite a chore - fun to do -  but a process nonetheless.   No more!!!  I have met and fell in love with the Phillips Pasta Maker.  This tool in incredible.  It took me 10 minutes to make 300g of fresh rigatoni pasta for this homemade mac and cheese.  Still can't get over it (my husband also stood there in awe, watching).  Oh yes, and it's so quiet!

This is an easy recipe to begin with and now the whole time to prepare it (with fresh homemade pasta) is down to just 20 minutes.  

This is a basic mac and cheese recipe but you could certainly dress it up by adding spices or herbs to your fresh pasta and a little extra protein like bacon, chorizo, sausage, pulled meat or top with some meatballs.  

Also want to point out that I also dotted a few Quebec fresh cheese curds into the sauce before placing under the broiler to add an extra stringy, squeaky texture to the dish.  I hope you enjoy!

Mac & Cheese:  2 generous servings - 4 sides

  • 300g of fresh macaroni/rigatoni pasta or 200g (2cups) of dried
  • 1T (15ml) of salted butter
  • 1T (15ml) of all purpose flour
  • 1 can (354ml) of evaporated milk (gives the sauce a creamy consistency and is delicious but you can also use whole milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) of grated cheese of your choice (I used medium cheddar) + fresh cheese curds to dot into the sauce at the end
  • fresh nutmeg
  • salted herbs* or salt to taste 
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped (or fresh herbs of your choice)
* you can find salted herbs (herbes salées) in the produce section of most supermarkets in Quebec.

For the fresh pasta:

If you are using the Phillips Pasta Maker, you will need 250g of all purpose flour and 95g of liquid (this is one beaten egg + water to equal 95g).  The machine comes with the tools to measure this out perfectly if you don't have a scale.  Fit the machine with the proper extruding disc, put in the ingredients, turn it to automatic and that's it.  In 10 minutes you will have fresh pasta.

Fill a large pot with water and 2t of salt and bring to a boil to cook the pasta.

For the sauce:

Heat the butter (1T - 15ml) in a medium sized pot or high sided pan over medium heat.  Add the flour (1T - 15ml) and whisk to combine. Cook for one minute, string continuously.

Add the evaporated milk (354ml - 1 can) and whisk to blend with the flour and butter (roux).  Allow the béchamel to cook over medium heat until it thickens and begins to boil, whisk it continuously during this process to prevent it from sticking.

Add the cheese, stirring and then the freshly grated nutmeg.  Add the salted herbs (or salt) and pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat until your pasta is cooked (but still al dente) and ready to be added into the sauce.

When the pasta is ready (remember to keep it al dente as it will continue to cook in the sauce and absorb all the wonderful flavours), return the sauce to a medium heat and a gentle boil.  

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pasta into the sauce (add a little of the cooking water if the sauce is too thick).  Stir to coat the pasta and allow to simmer for about 1 minute.  

Transfer the mac & cheese to an oven proof dish, dotting it with a few fresh cheese curds, if you have them.  It can be prepared to this point and kept covered and refrigerated until you are ready to serve (reheat at 350°F - 180°C until hot).

Just before serving, place under the  broiler to brown (watch it carefully at this point).  Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve.

Here is a great video showing how to use the Phillips Pasta Maker :

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