Friday, December 17, 2010
Homemade Macaroni & Cheese w/ a Beer Pairing
Margot is the mac & cheese aficionado in the house. Since college I haven’t been a big consumer of pasta or noodles. No aversion, just a lower than average desire to eat it.
After last weekend’s open house there was leftover cheese. I tend to squirrel this away in the fridge so I can eat it for the next week, but I really didn’t want to do that this time. My first inspiration was mac & cheese in the crock pot. It’s easy and something I could do in parallel with a day of work at home. Margot was quite surprised at the idea, but wasn’t going to turn it down! She actually took the opportunity to the fullest and switched her offering for her holiday pot-luck at work so she could share it with them. I also think getting out of the work of cooking played a part in that decision!
I had a good idea of what would go in it and that I would be keeping it simple. Lots of cheese wrapped around elbow macaroni.
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked to below done
8 cups shredded/diced assorted cheeses, divided (6/2 of cheddar)
2 cans (24 oz) evaporated milk
3 cups milk
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ tsp dry mustard
Breadcrumbs & paprika for garnish
Coat the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat eggs with milks, and spices, pepper and salt. Mix in cooked macaroni and cheeses. Transfer to slow cooker and cook on high for one hour, strirring frequently. Sprinkle remaining 2 C. cheese and turn down to low. Cook for 2-3 hours or until flavor and consistency is as desired. Serve garnished with some paprika and bread crumbs.
Margot has made a similar recipe for me in the past and I have always enjoyed it. The mix of cheese used this time, cheddar (mild and sharp), dill havarti, jalapeno, swiss, parmesan/romano and horseradish, really killed it! The aged cheese flavors are easily accessible and since it wasn’t baked there aren’t any burnt or dried out edges. Margot’s co-workers were happy and my work-time lunch on Thursday caught the attention of a few noses.
On the night I made it I tasted a new beer, the Sam Adams Infinium. Serendipity created a beer paring that I was not expecting to experience.
This newly released beer was made in partnership with the Weihenstephan brewery, the world’s oldest. The goal was the making of a Champagne-like beer using traditional ingredients and processes as approved by a 1516 German beer purity law, the Reinheitsgebot.
The beer is golden/orange in color with sweet yeasty aromas. The carbonation was definitely reminiscent of Champagne with thin columns of small bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass. The flavors of sweet bread are blended together expertly with a nice long finish of malty grains. I enjoyed each sip and could see this style of beer being a great aperitif or a closer for a meal. For everyday drinking it is a beady heady, and at $20 for a 750ml bottle it is pricy, but worth a try. The sweet flavors blended extremely well with the rich cheese and creamy macaroni & cheese. The slight acidity in the mac & cheese was carried along in the finish with the beer extending the pairing. Exceptional!
I hope that made everyone sufficiently hungry. East coast, lunch is on! West Coast, only a few hours to go until you can enjoy some for lunch.