Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Swiss Mac & Cheese

Yesterday for dinner, we headed south and had a meal inspired by Mexican cuisine (Mexican Pulled Pork/Carnitas and Chorizo Mexican Rice). Tonight, I'm solo for dinner while my husband is off jamming with his boy band. Usually for nights I'm cooking for 1, I keep things simple. You'll find me dining on grilled cheese, maybe some random sandwich or I'll even fix myself a salad with whatever lurks in my fridge. But tonight, I'm treating myself with an indulgent version of a classic - macaroni and cheese.

I love cheese just as much as the next person but when it comes to mac and cheese, there are so many variations out there that pique my interest. Tonight, my tastebuds are headed towards the Swiss Alps with my concoction of 'Swiss Mac & Cheese.'

This recipe was inspired by Swiss fondue. Fondue is slowly becoming a fun way to gather friends for dinner and it's especially easy to prepare for a crowd. Well, there are no crowds here with me tonight but I'll take that cheese fondue and combine with some pasta to make something delicious! Essentially this recipe is taking a traditional cheese fondue sauce and adding pasta. For additional texture and flavor, I garnished my comforting mac and cheese with crispy bits of bacon and some fresh chopped parsley.

Swiss Mac & Cheese
recipe inspired by Tyler Florence

1/2 pound imported Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch nutmeg
2-3 cups cooked macaroni or shell pasta
2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 cup crisply cooked bacon, chopped

Place the shredded cheeses in a bowl and sprinkle the cornstarch over it. Carefully toss the cheese to coat with cornstarch.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually stir the cheese into the simmering liquid. Melting the cheese gradually encourages a smooth sauce. Once smooth, stir in the mustard and nutmeg. Carefully add the cooked pasta and chopped parsley to the cheese sauce and fold in to combine.

To serve, plate up the mac & cheese and garnish with the crisp chopped bacon.

* To make ahead/freezer meal - Prepare as directed above only make sure your pasta is not all the way cooked. The pasta should still have some bite to it. Place dish in a oven- and freezer-proof baking dish and freeze. When ready to prepare, defrost and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until fully heated. To serve, plate up the mac & cheese and garnish with the crisp chopped bacon.