While I was in Montreal, I had lunch at a Olive & Gourmando, a local favorite in the old part of town. It was a cold day, and I could not resist their mac + cheese. Served in a mini cast iron skillet, it had just the right ratio of creamy noodles to crunchy topping and crispy, stuck-to-the-pan cheese. What really elevated this dish was the addition of sauteed mushrooms. Delicious! And with a salad of lightly dressed greens, herbs and a smattering of nuts it was heaven.Photo courtesy of Food Network (Alton Brown's recipe)
Of course this got me thinking about mac n cheese in general. I don't have a tried-and-true recipe in my arsenal, and this is troubling. (I think you can see where this is going.) So, for the next several weeks - as long as it takes - I am going to throw caution to the wind and indulge in a mac 'n' cheese experiment to find my ideal recipe.
Now, in thinking about this experiment, I have to draw some parameters, lest this become a multi-year project. The goal is not to make the richest, most over-the-top, or most unique variation of mac n cheese. Conversely, I am not trying for a "light" or "healthier" version. The goal is to find a great basic recipe that could be tinkered with in the future. So, all of you who immediately suggested that I include bacon in the recipe may be disappointed. (But please feel free to do that to your own arteries and report back.) That said, I am not promising that there will be no additions like the mushrooms that enhanced the Montreal mac + cheese. But they have to be things that will not deter me from making the recipe in the future - like cooking a pound of bacon and it's health implications most certainly would.
Finally, I will be testing different cheeses, but not any cheese that started it's life as powder. Apologies to those of you who are fans of the blue box. Does it have it's own special place in the pantry? Sure. Just not in mine. Anyway, I am looking for something that will emerge bubbling and golden from the oven and that rules out the blue box.
Anyway, tune in tomorrow for my first mac n cheese adventure.