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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Carl Cooks: Classic Mac & Cheese Rhymes With Peas

One of my favorite TV chefs is Tyler Florence. His cooking show on The Food Network and his best selling cookbook are both called Tyler's Ultimate.

Speaking of favorites one of my all time comfort foods is macaroni and cheese. Unlike many food snobs I have no problem with the iconic blue box version so many of us grew up eating. Just for nostalgia's sake here's a shot of that familiar staple found in so many pantries.

However, making your own mac & cheese from scratch is not that hard at all and the flavor curve goes right off the charts. Here's another blue box that's a great start for your own mac & cheese from scratch.

Making this great Tyler Florence mac & cheese recipe from scratch only requires a few key ingredients shown here:

1 cube unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 quart milk
5 cups sharp white Chedder cheese

Frozen Peas (16 ounce bag)
1 large yellow onion
2 large garlic cloves
1/3 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
1/3 bunch of fresh thyme (leaves only)

1 Package small elbow pasta (1 pound)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Cook pasta in large pot of salted water per package instructions. (7-8 minutes)
Warm the milk.
Shred the cheese.
Finely chop the parsley leaves.
Make a classic roux by melting the butter in a large sauce pan at medium high heat. Whisk in the flour until it dissolves then gradually stir in the milk.
Slowly add all but one cup of the cheese to make a thick sauce.
Add the parsley
Fold in the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce until well combined.


Preheat oven to 400 degreees
Pour pasta and cheese sauce mixture into deep baking pan
Top with remaining shredded cheese
Cook about 30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top

While pasta is in the oven...
Finely chop the onion
Remove thyme leaves from stems and chop
Peel and finely mince garlic cloves
Warm olive oil in medium saucepan
Add the onion, garlic and cook until soft
Add the peas stirring them until warm and soft
Top the finished mac & cheese with the sauteed peas

So be sure to let it rest before slicing. If peas are not your favorite, just follow the recipe and omit the topping. The nice thing about this recipe is that the squares of mac & cheese can either include the peas or not. Tyler's version includes crispy bacon cooked in the pea mixture which definitely adds another layer of texture and flavor. I prefer this veggie version and serve it with bacon bits on the side. Anyway you slice it you just can't beat classic mac & cheese when it comes to comfort. Thanks to Tyler for inspiration and another great twist on a classic.

1 comment:

  1. Well Carl, this is certainly impressive and I'll be sure to try it out. May I suggest trying Mac and Cheese using Italian Sharp Cheeses, such as Asiago, or Provolone, along with Parmesan or Romano instead of cheddar. You "could" still do the peas, but it's done basically the same standard method and I like to top with buttered bread crumbs. You don't even need garlic as the cheeses are very tangy.

    Your buddy David from Connecticut