I was reading about all those foods we eat that we don’t care to admit to anyone, especially to those that know we can cook. Mac and cheese from a box nears to top of many peoples lists. It being cheap and easy to make I somewhat understand why people like it. I don’t really care for it much myself. I could probably count the amount of times I have made it in the past several years on one hand, and usually it comes as a suggestion from someone else in my company. I can’t even remember when the last time would have been. But I do love a good mac and cheese made with a roux and some real cheese! Since it is groundhog day and apparently we should all get set for another 6 weeks of winter I decided to make a nice filling batch of mac and cheese.
I used penne this time because that was in my pantry. I prefer the larger size of the pasta noodles most often anyway. I used a mix of swiss and cheddar, and was sad to not have any parmesan this time. Usually I would add it. I consulted a variety of sources for making my sauce because I still have not mastered cooking sauces but can’t say I relied heavily on any one source to credit an adaptation from. The nutritional yeast flakes could easily be omitted if you don’t have any around, I just like to add them to cheesy dishes for their slightly cheesy taste and nutritional value. Vegans use them all the time in their mac and fake cheese.
Penne and Cheese
Penne, enough for 4-6 portions
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk, heated (I used 3.25%MF)
2 egg yolks
1 generous cup of shredded cheese (when I say generous I slightly pack the cup and heap more on top)
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper
In a skillet melt tablespoon of butter and lightly sautee the onion and garlic until the onions are starting to turn translucent. Remove from heat.
Cook the penne according to package directions or preference.
In a saucepan melt the remaining butter and whisk together with the flour, it may be slightly lumpy but try break it up as best you can. I love my flat whisk for this job. Add the warm milk and whisk frequently to mix away any remaining flour lumps.
Blend yolks in a small bowl, add a spoonful of the roux to the yolks stirring rapidly. Continue adding roux until to temper the yolks. This will prevent them from cooking to quickly when added to the roux. Mix in cheese and yolk mixture back into the roux. Add dijon, yeast flakes, cayenne, salt and pepper to season.
Mix cooked pasta in with cheese sauce. Pour into a casserole dish and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown on top. If you want it extra cheesy top with some more cheese before going into the oven.