Thursday, February 11, 2010

Deli-style Muenster Mac & Cheese

FOUND IT: At the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's 30 Days 30 Ways blog.

I modified this one a fair amount, because I liked the concept but not necessarily their execution of it. If you'd like to see it done a different way, follow the link over to their site.

With that said, my wife really liked the way this turned out, and was especially happy with the muenster and bread crumb topping. This recipe makes a lot, though, so cut it in half if you're only serving two people.

  • Bread crumbs for topping (Follow the link for a recipe to make them - I just used some I had on hand.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups grated) sharp white cheddar
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup gherkin pickles, drained and chopped (I omit this)
  • 8 slices Muenster Cheese

In a large pot of boiling water, cook elbow macaroni until just al dente (about 6 minutes). Do not drain yet, but turn off heat and let pasta sit in the hot water while you prepare the cheese sauce.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Sprinkle flour over butter and stir continuously with a spoon as the mixture forms a paste and begins to brown a little, roughly 2 minutes. Then add milk a little at a time, stirring with a whisk after each addition. The paste will be lumpy at first, but will smooth and blend eventually.

Once all milk is added, stir in chili powder, salt and ground pepper. Increase heat to medium, and continue stirring until sauce starts to thicken, about 8 minutes*. Reduce heat to low. Add the cheddar and stir until fully melted. Add the mustard and remove the cheese sauce from the heat.

* - I define "starts to thicken" in this case as the point where you can drag a silicon spatula along the bottom of the pan and see the bottom of the pan before the liquid fills in.

Drain the macaroni in a large colander and rinse under hot water to remove extra starch. Drain well and return to pot. Stir hot cheese sauce thoroughly, then pour it over hot macaroni. Toss the pasta to coat evenly. Pour this mixture into a 8x8 square or 9 inch round baking dish. Cover the top with slices of Muenster, then a thin layer of bread crumbs.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. If the cheese on top isn't browning at this point, turn on the broiler and finish it off that way. Let it rest for a few minutes to cool, then serve.

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