Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Smoked Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

 I don't know who first decided that mac 'n cheese was a "kids" food.  Of course almost all kids love it, but is there some rule that says that people must unlike the cheesy goodness of noodles drenched in a butter/cheese/milk sauce once they become adults?

Well I think that's crazy.  Pretty much, macaroni and cheese is one of my top 10 foods.  Ever. This recipe is not your traditional mac 'n cheese, but it is rich and extremely flavorful and definitely gives good ole' cheddar mac a run for its money.  I could not find 100% smoked cheddar, but found a blend of smoked shredded cheeses at Trader Joe's.  I think that was my favorite part about this recipe- the smoked cheese brings so much flavor and... smokiness!  This is a hot, hot recipe, my friends! (Hot as in amazing/hip/cool, not spicy. It's not spicy.) Definitely designed for a much older, maturer palate! ;)

Smoked Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese
from Betty Crocker

 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (12 oz)
1 1/2
cups whipping cream*
teaspoon Dijon mustard
teaspoon coarse (kosher or sea) salt
  teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  oz smoked Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  cans (14.5 oz each) Muir Glen® organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, well drained
  cup sliced green onions (4 medium)
cup grated Parmesan cheese
cup Progresso® plain bread crumbs
teaspoons olive oil

  1. Cook and drain macaroni as directed on box. Return to saucepan; cover to keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 2-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream, mustard, salt and red pepper to boiling. Reduce heat; stir in Cheddar cheese with wire whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour sauce over macaroni. Stir in tomatoes and onions. Pour into baking dish. In small bowl, mix Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Stir in oil. Sprinkle over top of macaroni mixture.
  4. Bake uncovered 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and top is golden brown.
Makes 8 servings (1 1/4 cups each)
*Make sure to use whipping cream in this recipe.  Even though it is higher fat, if you use milk or half and half, they are more likely to curdle when added to the acidic ingredients- the tomatoes.

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