Every now and again Ole Sweetie-Pi and I will crave a nice plateful of macaroni and cheese. There's something special and comforting about pasta and when you add cheese, well it becomes one of the perfect comfort foods.
I found this recipe at the New York Times and was immediately intrigued by it. First of all, the recipe says to use full fat cottage cheese and two cups of milk (nonskim!). All righty now ~ a recipe that's not afraid of some fat! And secondly, the macaroni is not precooked. Everything pretty much gets dumped in the baking dish and you are good to go. The recipe scared me; I had to try it.
Only thing is...when I checked the pantry I didn't have elbow macaroni; I had shells. I checked my fridge, and I didn't have the full pound of cheddar so I ended up using a half and half combination of cheddar and Gruyere. Yummm...the shells were like little scoops that held bites of cheese. And the combination of cheeses seemed to work well, the rich and sharp taste of cheddar, with the melty goodness of the Gruyere.
Sweetie-Pi gave a big YUMS up on this recipe, and I thought it was pretty good, but you'll have to love cheese for this one. Also, I wish it were a bit creamier in consistency, but I loved the idea of not having to preboil the pasta. Saved time, energy, and a pot.
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
(found on: The New York Times Dining and Wine section)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup cottage cheese (not lowfat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt ** (optional)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated, with 1/4 cup set aside
½ pound elbow pasta, uncooked.
Preheat your oven to 375*F.
Use one tablespoon butter to butter a casserole dish or square baking pan.
In a blender, combine the cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.
Grate the cheddar cheese if it's not already grated, reserving 1/4 cup for topping.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta.** Pour into prepared casserole. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover the pan, stir gently, and sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon butter. Continue baking for another 30 minutes or until beautifully browned and bubbly. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
MY NOTES: In my opinion, cheese is already quite salty. I did not add the 1/2 teaspoon salt called for in the recipe, and the dish was salty enough.
I mixed everything together in the casserole dish to save a mixing bowl.
The directions state to cover the dish with aluminum foil. I used a covered casserole dish, but would have used the aluminum foil if I were using a dish that did not have a fitted cover.