If you were following my tweets over the month of December or you’re one of my other social networking peeps, you probably heard some smoky, cheesy chatter coming from my digital lair. I’m, of course, referring to my Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese, a little dish I was perfecting over the holidays and am now feeling pretty good about. For those of you who are hearing about this for the first time… yes it tastes exactly as you’re imagining. So if you dig Smoked Gouda the way I do, get ready to have your socks AND your pants blown off of your body… cause I’m about to give you the recipe.
First I gotta give props where props are due. I actually got the original version of the recipe from an old friend that I reconnected with on Facebook. Viv and I attended a magnet school for media arts almost 20 years ago! Crazy. That was back when I thought I would pursue a career in design and illustration. And who knows where that may have led me… perhaps to sleepless nights designing 3D storyboards for James Gunn. Yeah, who knows.
Anyway, she’s a super gifted artist with an impressive portfolio of work in digital effects. And apparently, over the past two decades, she’s been collecting some tasty recipes. So I convinced her to present one to me… as a sort of reunion gift. Yeah, I was like, “Hey!! Wow!!! It’s been so long!!! Got anything awesome for me?!” The answer was a resounding, SMOKED GOUDA MAC AND CHEESE. And so now I pass this gift unto you… with a few modifications.
Okay let’s get started.
- 4 1/2 tablespoons of salted butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 6 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound of elbow macaroni (Warning: DO NOT use another kind of pasta without changing the name of this recipe first)
- 1/2 pound smoked Gouda cheese, grated (please please please grate the cheese before you start. It took me three attempts before I learned this the hard way.)
Makes enough to feed 8-10 people little cup size servings, or 2 people big selfish servings. You know how much a bag of noodles makes. How many people do you usually serve with that? Remember, this is smoked gouda mac and cheese and people will want to eat the hell out of that, so you might need to keep your dinner guests down to a modest number of two or less.
Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese Recipe
Get yourself a saucepan about the size that college students use to make spaghetti. You know, the kind where you have to break the spaghetti in half in order to fit it. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Yes, I said four… what, do you have a problem with butter? Okay, good, so now add the 4 tablespoons of flour and start whisking it constantly for about 2 minutes or so.
Now slowly add the 4 cups of milk, stirring constantly. I kinda take the risotto approach here and just add little bits at a time. And DON’T use soymilk… seriously don’t. Unless you want your smoked gouda mac and cheese to taste kind of like a peanut butter sandwich just… don’t. And I’d rather not talk about how I know this. I’ll just say: if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan you probably shouldn’t even be making this.
Okay, so I’ve done this thing 4 times now, and whenever I finish stirring in the milk, I freak out about the porportion. It always looks more like soup than sauce at this point… but I just take a deep breath, trust the recipe, and it turns out okay… so be not afraid. It will eventually get thicker, I promise. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper. You want the milk to come to a light boil as you continue to stir, taking care not to burn it. You’ll know the smell if it does, believe me.
At this point, I like to start the noodles so that they can be finished cooking around the same time as the sauce. But it’s tricky, cause you have to keep your eye on the sauce and maintain some level of stirring… otherwise it’ll burn.
I’ve already combined 6 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and a few drops of veggie oil in a large, heavy pot… the kind grown-ups use to cook spaghetti. Now all I have to do is bring it… to a boil.
Add the macaroni and cook. You’ll need to stir the macs every once in a while. Dudes like me don’t always recognize the value of stirring noodles while they cook. Takes a few macaroni bricks before we wise up. Set your timer for 8 minutes, and let’s turn our attention back to the sauce.
Continue whisking the sauce until the noodles are done. Turn the heat down on the sauce to very low and take this opportunity to quickly drain your noodles. The sauce will still seem too soupy, but it should be at least a bit thicker… or at least frothier.
Okaaaayyy!! Now the cheesy part. Start stirring in the cheese slowly. Bits at a time so that it’s easier to melt. Keep stirring until it’s pretty smooth. Doesn’t need to be like silk, just even.
Thicker sauce huh? Told ya.
Now combine the cheese sauce and macaroni in a large mixing bowl or pot. Stir like mad, getting the sauce into every nook and cranny. It should be a gooey, creamy, nasty little mixture. We in the smoked Gouda mac and cheese business call that smoked Gouda mac and cheese.
So at this point… I say eat it.
I say. eat. that. mac!
But I realize not everyone is like me. There are some people out there that like to bake a crust on the top of their mac and cheese. They think it’s “cool” for their cheese sauce to get dryer and a layer of mac to get harder.
Yeah… I once ran in those circles. I know what that’s like.
OPTIONAL SMOKED GOUDA MAC AND CHEESE STEP THAT I NO LONGER ENDORSE:
If this is something you feel you really, really… really need to do… well, I can’t stop you. So I guess, I’ll just try to make sure you don’t get hurt.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees around the time the noodles were placed in the water. Lightly grease a large enough casserole dish with 1/2 a teaspoon of butter (WHAT?!). Pour your prepared mac and cheese into the dish and bake it until it gets golden on top. About 15 to 25 minutes depending on the stove and how high you place it on the rack.
Garnish it with whatever… parsley… chives… cocaine.
Those who give this smoked gouda mac and cheese a shot, I’d love to know what you think. Did you follow the recipe exact? Did you experiement? Have a recipe for me? Gib es mir!
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