It seems like since I’m home ALL THE TIME, planning and preparing the weekly mac should be easier. It hasn’t worked out that way. I don’t know if it’s because all the days run together now, so when the weekend comes I’m surprised, or because I’m going to the grocery store so infrequently (and they don’t always have what I’m looking for) so I’m not able to shift gears as easily, or what, but the last few weeks have seemed to be harder to get it done. I mean, it’s once a week! Some food bloggers post EVERY DAY.
For this week, I actually knew pretty early on what I was going to make. I had made a batch of alfredo sauce early in the week (it was GREAT on last week’s French Onion Mac) and had a partial head of garlic left over. I’ve been itching to try another recipe from The Mac & Cheese Cookbook, their “Gilroy Garlic Mac & Cheese” so it was a perfect match.
BTW, I’m one of those people that garlic memes are made for. Whatever the recipe calls for, I will at least add a couple of additional cloves, if not just double the amount from the start.
Adapted from The Mac & Cheese Cookbook
Basic Mac Sauce:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup flour
- 1-2 tsps. Kosher salt (cut in half if using regular table salt)
Important note: the recipe calls for 3 cups of milk, the above is what I used instead.
I was out of milk, but the last time I had bought a full gallon I knew I couldn’t use it all before it turned, so I tried freezing it. I had filled 5 ice cube trays, so this seemed like a good time to see how it worked. I wish I had thought to take a picture when I pulled a couple of trays out of the freezer – it did not look promising, the milk cubes were kind of dry and flaky looking, not at all appealing. But a few hours in plastic baggies in the fridge and they had thawed and reincorporated nicely.
Unfortunately, I had only thawed enough for 2 cups of milk, and as mentioned, I needed 3. No problem, I also had a partial container of heavy cream, I’d just substitute that. Spoiler alert, this may not have been a great idea. More later.
- 8 oz. penne pasta
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups of Mac Sauce (above)
- 1 ½ cups grated Gouda cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (see notes)
Basic Mac Sauce
- Heat milk & cream over medium heat – let it just begin to bubble but not boil. Pay close attention – mine was barely warm and I turned to stir the pasta and the pan boiled over. Mistake #1.
- Melt ½ cup butter in another pan over medium heat, then stir in flour and whisk for a few minutes until it turns light brown. Removed from heat. Same as the last time I used this recipe, I forgot to take it off the heat. Mistake #2.
- Slowly pour the warm milk & cream mixture into the butter & flour mixture, whisking continually. It gets very thick and then eventually thins as you add all the liquid and whisk. Mine did not, it stayed VERY thick, and on the edge of gluey.
- Place pan back on burner and continue to stir over medium-high heat. It should become “silky and thick.” Again, mine did not. Remove from heat and transfer sauce into a bowl
- Combine minced garlic and ¼ cup butter and combine well.
- Cook pasta in salted water to desired tenderness. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Measure 2 cups of the basic mac sauce back into pan.
- Add the grated cheeses and the garlic butter and stir until the cheese has melted. Mine remained very thick and gooey, and the butter never fully incorporated.
- Add pasta and stir to coat evenly and heat through.
It’s … not great. The overly broiled topping from last week aside, this is my first real failure. I think the taste is probably fine, but the sauce just came out too thick and gluey. This is entirely on me, I’m sure if I had followed the recipe and the directions more closely, it would be MUCH better. I don’t know if it was because I used cream along with the milk, or because I overcooked the butter & flour, or a combination, but it just didn’t work. I plan to try this one again at some point and will update this page if the results are better.
- The recipe originally called for Pecorino Romano cheese – I’ve had a tough time finding that and I haven’t been to the store in a while, so I substituted the Parmesan I did have on hand. I don’t think this particular change contributed to the poor outcome.
- According to the cookbook, one of the possible reasons it was so thick was that I overcooked the butter & flour mixture. This can possibly be fixed by adding additional milk when you add the cheese. Once I get – or thaw – some, I will see how it works to add it to the final dish for reheating.
Posted May 10, 2020