Mac and cheese is the ultimate holiday comfort food -- the edible equivalent of sitting by a glowing fire, all wrapped in your favorite fleece blanket. But its cheesy deliciousness is often marred by fighting over its proper preparation.
In one camp are stovetop loyalists: those who prefer the cheesy, gooeyness of a sauce simmered over an open flame. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the oven-baking diehards. You know the type. They want their crispy, toasted topping and they want it NOW, dryness be damned.
We're here to be your holiday mac and cheese peacekeepers, with a little help from Brooklyn's Jack the Horse Tavern, which devised the perfect mac and cheese recipe to the stove and oven camps. Their recipe, which they agreed to share with Sporkful (and Eat More Better) readers, starts on the stove and finishes with a short bake in the oven, for a quick crisping.
Now, you can get back to talking politics and religion.
Jack the Horse Mac and Cheese
Makes 4 servings
You will need:
- 1 pint potato cream (see recipe below)
- 12 ounces grated cheese (8 ounces smoked gouda and 4 ounces fontina)
- 2 1/2 cups cooked cavatappi pasta
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup toasted panko bread crumbs
For the Potato Cream:
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated potato
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Gently heat the potato cream.
- Add cheese; stir until melted.
- Add pasta and mustard; stir until heated.
- Fill baking dishes and sprinkle on bread crumbs.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes (if making mac and cheese ahead, bake for 8 to 10 minutes when ready to serve.
Note: Individual baking dishes are best. You want dishes that are not too deep, or they'll take too long to heat and the fat may separate.
Eaters, what are your mac and cheese diplomacy strategies? Share them in the comments.
Talia Ralph is a freelance writer pursuing her Master's in Food Systems at NYU. She also hosts a radio show about pizza. Follow her on Twitter @TaliaBethRalph.
Photo: Flickr CC / Christian Ramiro González Verón