When I was in college, my best friend was studying in the UK and she would tell me horror tales of lumpy inedible cheese sauce. Apparently at that time at her local Tescoes, they didn’t have macaroni and cheese in a box. Or perhaps she just couldn’t afford it on her student budget. But I remember that lumpy sauces seemed to be a particularly apt metaphor for college and adulthood. Why is something that looks so basic, that everyone else can do, be so inexplicably hard? Bah, impossible!
It was not until I witnessed a former roommate nail it over and over again that roux (the fancy pants word for that thickening sauce) became something less scary. The trick, it seems, is constant vigilance — this is not something to do while watching TV — and a slow trickle of milk. Occasionally, the flour and butter mixture would resemble the texture of cottage cheese, but each time it absorbed a dollop of milk, until it turned from tiny dough to glue to sauce. Congratulations to me, I have finally leveled up.
Goat Cheese and Parmesan Mac
ADAPTED from Food.com
NOTES: If you’re hungry or low on cheese and breadcrumbs, you can skip the topping. It tastes great already, but if you want to go that extra mile…
1⁄2 lb or 8 oz macaroni or fusilli
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons flour
1 cups milk
fresh ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup packed grated parmesan cheese
1⁄4 cup goat cheese (about 1 ounce) or a heaping tablespoon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1⁄3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (1 teaspoon fresh thyme)
1⁄4 cup goat cheese (about 1 ounce or 1 tablespoon)
freshly grated pepper
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook about 8 to 10 minutes, or until just tender, depending on the size of the pasta. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. When the butter is melted and sizzling, stir in the flour to create a paste and cook 1 minute.
Slowly add the milk, whisking to create a smooth sauce. Let cook about 5 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If I’m able to draw a line through the sauce on the back of my spoon with my finger, it’s thick enough.
Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the grated Parmesan and the goat cheese, whisking to create a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Use the olive oil to grease the bottom of a medium size gratin or baking dish, about 8 to 10 inches long.
Combine the drained pasta in the sauce pan and mix so the sauce evenly coats the pasta. Gently empty into the baking vessel of your choice.
In a small bowl, make the topping. Mix the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, thyme, and pepper. Spoon over the macaroni and top with the goat cheese.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the pasta is hot.