Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January 5: Mac-n- Smoked Gouda with Cauliflower

   Coarse salt
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi (corkscrew-shaped pasta)
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cups whole milk
1 cup chicken stock or broth
3 cups shredded smoked Gouda
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
   Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (a generous handful) smoked almonds, chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to season the cooking water, then add the pasta.

Cook for 5 minutes, then add the cauliflower and cook for 3 minutes more or until the pasta is cooked al dente and the florets are just tender.
Drain well and return to the pot.

While the pasta cooks, heat a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add the EVOO and heat with the butter until it melts.

Add the onions and cook for 3 to 5 minutes to sweat them out and turn the juices sweet. Raise the heat a bit, then whisk in the flour, cayenne, and paprika.

Whisk together until the roux bubbles up, then cook for 1 minute more. Whisk in the milk and stock and raise the heat a bit higher to bring the sauce to a quick boil. Once it bubbles, drop the heat back  to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the cheese to the thickened sauce and stir to melt it, a minute or so. Stir in the mustard and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Pour over the Cauliflower and cooked pasta and toss to combine.

Adjust the seasonings, transfer to a large platter, and serve. Sprinkle the finished dish with the smoked almonds.

This is one of Rachael's variations of a "Master Recipe." One thing that might be confusing to people is that she never rewrites the recipe, she just puts "Omit," "Swap," "Add," and so forth. Sometimes the directions are quite confusing (not so much in this recipe, but often in more complicated ones) so I decided to just go ahead and write it out with the substitutions and additions written in... just like it's a brand new recipe.

In this one, it's quite simple: the cauliflower is subbed in for the broccoli, the smoked Gouda for the Cheddar, and the almonds are added. I did not find any smoked Gouda in the store, but they had several kinds of smoked cheese, so I just used smoked Swiss because I wanted it to be white instead of yellow. Otherwise I would have used smoked Cheddar. If you're not into strong cheese, the smoked Cheddar would have been a better option.

Okay, so I guess you're wondering why I said yesterday I was going to make the Beef Goulash today to split up the Mac-n-cheese quartet, but I made the Mac-n-cheese instead. I was invited to a "girl's night" tonight and my husband does not like cauliflower, so I just decided the Mac-n-cheese would be better for transporting and then my husband wouldn't have to eat it (or I wouldn't have to alter the recipe.) It worked out great. The girls really liked it even with the Swiss cheese. I still put this recipe with tomorrow's date on it though. It worked out even better because my ground beef for tomorrow hadn't thawed yet, AND there was so much Mac-n-cheddar left over from yesterday that, even though we ALL had it for lunch today, there was enough for my husband to have it for his dinner tonight (he likes broccoli).

Again, I would give this 8 regular servings for my family, but I will give it 6 large servings (instead of the 4 she gives it) for a family with big appetites.

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