It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of food and cooking shows. For as long as the Food Network has been in existence, I've had my butt plastered to the couch to watch my favorite chefs teach me how to knock the socks off of my loved ones. They've helped teach me the methods necessary to roast the world's juiciest turkey and create a succulent stew. While many of my friends sat down to watch episodes of Real Housewives or Grey's Anatomy (is that show even on anymore?) I watched stars like Ina Garten. I LOVE to watch Ina create goodness in her kitchen. She's earthy and elegant and incredibly talented. Basically, a polar opposite of me. You know opposites attract, right? That's why I'm perfectly content loving Ina for what she is and what she does!
When I joined the Sunday Supper group last week, I had NO idea what a treat I would be in for with this week's theme. I felt like a kid on Christmas when they told me that the theme for this week is "Favorite Chef Inspired Dishes". I squealed with delight!
Truthfully, it wasn't difficult deciding which chef I wanted to emulate, but it WAS rough deciding which of Ina's dishes I wanted to create. I flipped through a few pages of "How Easy is That" and then I thought I'd head over to the Barefoot Contessa website to see if there was anything shouting my name. Indeed there was! I'm a comfort food JUNKIE, so when I landed on this gem of a recipe, for Grown Up Mac & Cheese, I just knew I wanted to take it and make it my own.
I'm sure there are plenty of kids who would enjoy a bowl of this comfort, but it's definitely not a taste you'll get from a blue box. Ina's recipe starts with a basic Bechamel sauce, and then she kicks it into high gear adding a rich blend of sharp cheddar and Gruyère cheeses. She makes it even more grown up by adding fresh tomatoes and home made bread crumbs to the top before she bakes it. It sounds delightful in its own right, but good tomatoes are hard to come by right now, so I knew I'd need to find a suitable substitute. Fact numero uno about yours truly...I don't turn down an opportunity to use bacon where ever and when ever possible, and kids, THIS was a possible moment! In addition to the bacon, I also decided to add some additional cheesiness. MORE CHEESE PLEASE! I used a blend of white cheddar and Gruyère, but then I took it up a couple more notches. I wanted my grown up mac to be REALLY grown up... sophisticated even. So I added tangy crumbled Blue Cheese, and just to give it some extra creaminess, I tossed in a couple of ounces of cream cheese. That's right...I went there! What? You've never seen a Wisconsinite doing what she does best? Come on. You KNOW you need to have this in your mouth.
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni (or small pasta shape of your choosing)
- 4 cups (1 quart) milk
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
- 8 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
- 4 ounces ounces crumbled blue cheese
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 ounces crisply cooked and crumbled bacon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add enough salt to make the water taste "like the sea". Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk over medium heat in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour, stirring to create a roux. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the roux and cook over medium heat, stirring occassionally, until thickened and smooth. Turn heat to low and add all cheeses, crumbled bacon, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the bread crumbs are browned on the top.
Thanks to Tammi from Momma's Meals for hosting this week's Sunday Supper!
Please join on Twitter for #SundaySupper on December 2, 2012, throughout the day. In the evening, we will meet at 7 PM EST for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat. All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat
For more great recipes inspired by great chefs, check out what the rest of the Sunday Supper group is cooking up!
Starters or Snacks :
Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog - Oyster and Brie Soup and Wine Pairings for Celebrity Chef #SundaySupper
Linda at The Urban Mrs. - Inspired by Bobby Flay, Lobster Chowder with Roasted Corn Salsa
Erin from Dinners, Dishes and Desserts - Rachael Ray’s Cinnamon Popcorn
Cindy over at Cindy’s Recipes and Writings - Jamie Oliver’s Bread and Tomato Soup
Jeff at The Catholic Foodie - Drop Biscuits – Breakfast with Chef John Besh
Renee over at Kudos Kitchen By Renee - Giada De Laurentiis’ Garlic Toasts With Red Pepper Aioli
The Main Dish:
Sheila at Cooking Underwriter – Paula Deen’s Chicken in a Crock Pot w/ Sauerkraut and Apples
Laura over at Small Wallet Big Appetite – Martin Yan’s Beef Chow Fun
Sarah over at Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends - Michael Symon’s Lola burger with crab tater tots
Susan at The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen - Ina Garten’s Baked Shrimp Scampi
Tammi at Momma’s Meals – Lee Drummond’s Sloppy Joe’s
Lane over at Supper for a Steal - Bobby Flay’s Rosemary Bricked Chicken
Tara from Noshing with the Nolands - Michael Symon’s Pork and Apple Scallopini
Shannon at Country Girl in the Village – Simple Red Sauce over Rigatoni. Inspired by, Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos
Kris over at In the Kitchen with Audrey and Maurene - Rachael Ray’s Muffin Tin Meatloaf
Nicole from The Daily Dish Recipes - Paula Deen’s Slow Cooker Pulled Pickled Pork Sandwiches
Alice at Hip Foodie Mom - Sunday Pot Roast with Risotto Cakes from Kelsey Nixon
Jen over at Juanita’s Cocina - The Neely’s White Turkey Chili
Brianne from Cupcakes & Kale Chips - Crockpot Beef Pot Roast with Mushrooms inspired by Giada DeLaurentiis
Isabel at Family Foodie - Polenta with Garlicky Shrimp inspired by Chef Todd English
Wendy from The Weekend Gourmet - Shrimp Penne in Pesto Cream Sauce, From Emeril Lagasse
Bobbi over at Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen - Cheesy Poblano Chicken
Patti at Comfy Cuisine - Tyler Florence’s Chicken Francese
Roxanne over at The Roxx Box - Jambalaya Pasta with Penne, Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille
Sue from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz – Rachael Ray’s Spicy Corn Chowdah Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Jamie at Mama Mommy Mom - Penne with Asparagus, Smoked Gouda and Prosciutto. Adapted from, Giada De Laurentiis’
Tora over at Tora’s Real Food – Pork and beans with Alton Brown’s pickled pork
Elisabeth over at The Hand That Rocks The Ladle - Emeril’s New Orleans Style Red Beans & Rice
Megan from I Run For Wine - Curtis Stone’s Acorn Squash Roasted with Thyme
Sandi over at Midlife Road Trip - Gabriele Corcos’s Gnocchi di Patate
Shelby at Diabetic Foodie - Orange Pecan Black Rice, adapted from Ina Garten
Katie from She likes Ruffles, He likes Truffles - Chef Fabio Viviani’s Spinach and Artichoke Risotto
Renee over at Magnolia Days – Brownie Tart
Conni at The Foodie Army Wife - Inspired by Ree Drummond – Scrumptious Apple Coffee Cake
Paula over at Vintage Kitchen Notes - Bill Granger´s Cherry Tart
Pam from The Meltaways – Savannah Sheet Cake
Katy over at Happy Baking Days - Mary Berry’s Treacle Tart
Jaime over at Mom’s Test Kitchen - Southern Tea Cakes
Amy over at Kimchi MOM - Crack Pie, I Can’t Quit You
Lyn from The Lovely Pantry - Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Squares
Melanie at From Fast Food to Fresh Food – Sand Tarts
Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog