Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

January 4, 2007

Mac-n-Cheese off Part 2

This is the first time I have ever made homemade mac and cheese that is baked and then eaten. It is completely different from the boxed mac and cheese with the orange glob of cheez-food that gets stirred in.

First - Pasta Selection:
Only the best BLUE and WHITE Pasta ever!

I did my graduate school course work at THE Pennsylvania State University, and PennState football made it to the Outback Bowl in FL against Univ of TN (note, I live in Nashville, TN now, so either team winning would be ok, although I am loyal to the PennState Blue and White Nittany Lions) . To support PennState, I decided to make my pasta blue and white! I went to the Pasta Shoppe, a little cottage industry down the street from me, and they have a lot of college themed pasta, and other fantastic gift pasta ideas! I bought a pound of PennState Nittany Lion Pasta. Go PENNSTATE, Go BLUE and WHITE!

Second - Sauce:
Most of the ingredients, pasta, salt, pepper, Danish blue, Gruyere, butter, milk (cream missing)

Since I am a BIG PENNSTATE fan, I am going completely BLUE and WHITE with the cheese selection as well. I am using BLUE Cheese and WHITE Gruyere. What else is there for the perfect PENNSTATE BLUE and WHITE Mac-n-Cheese? So, I have never made a bechamel sauce before, so I went to the machine (aka my computer) to find a recipe. What came up when I googled Bechamel was a wikipedia recipe. I used it as a base, and I modified it for a more rich, fatten sauce, and I didn't really measure the ingredients, as I usually cook by texture, taste and feel.
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons bacon fat
1/3 cup flour
1ΒΌ cups milk
1 cup half & half
a few grinds of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 lb grated WHITE Gruyere
1/2 cup loosely packed crumbled Danish BLUE Cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Hand grated Gruyere

Lazy pre-crumbled blue cheese

1. Place butter and bacon fat in a saucepan and turn the heat to low. When the butter is melted, remove the saucepan from the stove.
2. Sift the flour into the butter a little at a time, stirring continuously to combine them.
3. Add the milk a little at a time, and half&half a little at a time, continuously stirring.
4. Put the saucepan back on the stove on low, and stir until the sauce starts boiling and becomes thicker.
5. Turn heat off. Add pepper and nutmeg, and keep stirring.
6. Add all but about 1/3 cup of Gruyere, all the whilst stirring the sauce.
7. Add the blue cheese, and still stir, stir, stir the pot.
What I learned: STIR THE WHOLE TIME! DON'T STOP STIRRING, or the FLOUR will CLUMP. sigh. Yes, I learned that lesson. Maybe next time I will try arrowroot or cornstarch to thicken instead of flour.

The bechamel, with the last bit of blue cheese to be stirred in.

Third - Boiling the Pasta:
While stirring the cheesy bechamel, I used my other hand to fill a pot with water, and brought it to a boil with some kosher salt. I dumped in my beautiful Blue and White Nittany Lion pasta, stirring the pasta occasionally for about 7 minutes, or until the pasta was just al dente, but not that done. Stir, stir, stir the cheesy bechamel!

Fourth - Butter the Casserole Dish:
My blue and white dutch oven to bake the mac-n-cheese in.

While the pasta was boiling, and while I was stirring the cheesy bechamel, I turned on the oven to 350F, found my BLUE and mostly WHITE Le Creuset Dutch Oven, and used a third hand to generously butter the sides of the Dutch Oven. Stir, stir, stir, oh you get the picture.

Fifth - Assembly:
Sauce, pasta and bread crumbs assembled, and ready to bake.

I drained the pasta while still stirring the cheesy bechamel. I combined the pasta and cheesy bechamel and dumped it into my greased dutch oven. I mixed up the bread crumbs and remaining Gruyere cheese and sprinkled it on top of the mac and cheese. I baked this goodness uncovered in the 350F oven for about 35 minutes, or until it was heated through.

Sixth - EAT!

Finished mac-n-cheese, with serving missing.

My plate of PENNSTATE BLUE and WHITE mac-n-cheese!

Yummy, rich, and delicious! The first plate was very good, with just enough blue cheese, but not overwhelmingly so. The milk and cheese integrated well with the pasta, and the baking finished cooking the pasta through. The topping could have used a little more time to become more crunchy, and maybe next time I should spray the top with a little olive oil to help the bread crumbs get a little more crispy while baking.

PENNSTATE won the Outback Bowl game 20-10 over UT! Now that is some good cheese!

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At 1/5/07, 11:02 AM, Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I am just blown away! It is ever-so "nittany."
Nice job.

At 1/5/07, 2:52 PM, Blogger Stacie said...

Butter, bacon and team spirit all in one dish! Great!

At 1/5/07, 3:37 PM, Blogger sher said...

This is great!! I really take my hat off to you on this. My post looks really boring compared to yours.

At 1/5/07, 6:05 PM, Blogger D-man said...

Wow! That color is truly amazing! I am soooo making this for my monkey. She will love the blue, and the stinky cheese component will keep her interested, probably even lingering enough for having seconds. Thanks for the idea.

Now imagine the cheerleaders rah-rah-ing, a large lion paw swats at the air and we do a call and response:
How do we like it?
And what makes its tasty?

so, hello there, and happy new year

At 1/5/07, 7:32 PM, Blogger Lannae said...

Hey Cookie, Thank you for noticing that the dish is oh-so-quite Nittany Lions! What do you think? All food should be blue and white or what?

Hey Stacie, Thank you for stopping by my mac-n-cheese dish! and YES, everything is better with bacon fat!

Sher, oh contrary my dear! Your mac-n-cheese looks just Fabulous! Bon Appetit!

Hey D-man, why yes, blue and white noodles are always a big hit for the little monkeys as well as for most Pennsylvanians too! Check out for more kinds of colorful theme pasta!

At 1/5/07, 7:50 PM, Blogger Tammy said...

Theme pasta? Who knew?

I love how your cheese color coordinates. How could your team NOT win?

At 1/6/07, 8:43 AM, Anonymous abby said...

that colour combination is wild! i have a macaroni cheese made with blue cheese (leftover stilton from christams) in the freezer - it's such a good variation on the theme!

At 1/6/07, 10:45 AM, Blogger Lannae said...

Hello Tammy, Thank you for noticing how well my whole dish coordinated with the PennState Blue and White theme!

Hello Abby, why next time, I will need to try some Stilton! There is nothing like the "nose" of Stilton! BTW, the blue food is a big hit with not only PennState fans, but for kids too! Although, the kids seem to find humor and giggle at every bite. Don't the kids know that blue and white food is serious business?

At 1/17/07, 6:11 PM, Anonymous Nicole Sauce said...

Wow! It looks great. Makes me want to cook the German equivalant: Kasespaetzle...


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