Nov 11, 2009

Crafted Dinner: Mt.Vesuvio Mac and Cheese

On Monday, in front of the Breakfast TV cameras, Chef Juan Salinas cooked up his "Mt. Vesuvio Mac and Cheese". It's a delicious take on the old classic. And everyone wanted the recipe-- we posted it, but now here is the elaborated version, with pictures and a variation or two.



I happened to have some of CheeseB's house-made breadcrumbs kicking around. This worked out very well--mixed thoroughly with a little melted butter it acquires a good crumbly texture for sprinkling on top. It browns perfectly during baking. I think it also protects that added layer of Mimolette underneath, as cheese can overcook easily.

Mimolette, described by CheeseB as follows:
An unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Normandy, France. It’s aged in-house for four
years and has a beautiful orange colour with a nice salty and nutty bite. This cheese was
a happy accident! The cheesemaker was trying to make a Dutch Gouda style cheese
but ended up making one of the better French offerings in the cheese elite.



I slowly mixed the finely grated cheese (grated in-store) directly into the flour/cream mixture, on low heat as it was thickening. The result was an intensely rich and flavourful sauce.



The Gragnano pasta is ideal, just be sure it is on the firmer side of al dente, as it will also cook more in the oven. I would recommend reserving some of its starchy water (1 cup or so ) from boiling, and mixing all that along with the cheese sauce and peppers. Put it into the baking dish and layer on more cheese, then top with breadcrumbs that have been mixed with a bit of melted butter.

I cooked it for about 2o minutes at 350 F, then gave it a few minutes of broiling until nicely browned on top.


A good cheese and quality pasta make all the difference here. And the Roland's Fire Roasted Red Peppers (with dill, garlic and a touch of oil) are among the best jarred variety I have tasted--good value, and great in this Mac and Cheese dish.

Here is the full original recipe:

Mt.Vesuvio Mac and Cheese
by in-house Chef, Juan Salinas
Yields 6 servings

Ingredients:

• 1 x 16 oz bag of Vesuvius Pasta (Pasta Di Gragnano brand*)
• 3 tbsp butter (Cheese Boutique’s fresh farm butter)
• 2tbsp all purpose flour
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, chopped
• 2 cups of whole milk or coffee cream
• 2 large roasted red pepper, chopped (Roland’s fire roasted red peppers)
• salt
• freshly cracked black pepper
• grated nutmeg to taste
• 1 cup of grated cheese Mimolette Cheese
• extra grated cheese mix for serving

(Bread Crumb topping optional: CheeseB's house-made breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter)

Directions:

1. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions.
2. Sauté onion in butter in a large skillet for 3 to 4 minutes, add garlic and flour, then mix until blended.
3. Remove from heat, add milk and stir to dissolve lumps.
4. Return the skillet to medium-low heat and cook for 2 minutes, then set aside.
5. Drain pasta and toss with roasted peppers and cheese mix.
6. Adjust seasoning and add some extra cheese mix if desired. Transfer to a medium baking dish brushed with melted butter.
7. Sprinkle the top with extra grated cheese mix, brown the top under a broiler and serve.


* New Cheese Boutique import from Napoli, Italy


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