Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Smoked Gouda with Bacon and Chicken Mac and Cheese

I've not always been the biggest fan of baked macaroni and cheese. Many times, the cheese flavor is just utterly underwhelming. I think two things contribute to this. First, is using a cheese that doesn't bring much flavor to the party, like mild cheddar or American. Second, not using enough cheese in the sauce.

I prefer to use a strongly flavored cheese, like an extra sharp cheddar, or a smoked Gouda. In this case, I had a some Yancy's Fancy Smoked Gouda with Bacon.

It's a nice semi-hard cheese that grates easily, and melts smoothly.

The process is fairly straight forward. You cook pasta to al dente, make a bechemel sauce and add cheese, then mix together, top with bread crumbs, and bake. I added some cooked chicken breast to make it a bit more main dishy.

To go with, I rough chopped some kale,and braised it in a little porter, seasoned with sea salt and some Trader Joe's Flower Pepper.

Smoked Gouda with Bacon and Chicken Mac and Cheese

10 oz. egg noodles
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. powdered hot oriental mustard
3 cups cream
2 medium shallots, minced
1 tsp. hot smoked paprika
15 ounces smoked Gouda with bacon, grated
1 large chicken breast, cooked and diced
salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup bread crumbs

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles to al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and mustard to make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly, until pale blond in color. Add shallots, cook briefly. Add cream and paprika. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened. Add half of the cheese. Whisk until cheese is melted and smoothly incorporated. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. 

In a ceramic lined cast iron dutch oven, combine noodles, sauce, and chicken.  Add remaining cheese on top. 

In a small pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add bread crumbs, Cook, moving continuously, until lightly toasted.

Spread toasted crumbs evenly over top of casserole.

Bake uncovered for ten minutes, then cover and bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and remove cover. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Happy Eating!