You know, it's probably because I am currently on a "severe caloric restriction program" that everywhere I turn I am incessantly reminded of one of god's gifts to mankind and maybe my most favorite food item on earth: cheese. Perhaps it's the universe's way of reminding me that patience is a virtue, gluttony is #3 on that chart I don't like to look at, and everything should be appreciated in moderation (yea, right). Well, the wise sage who wrote those things probably didn't understand the love contained in a small bite of artisan chevre, the unending pleasure in the sharpest of blues, and the unconditional love of a true cave-aged gruyere. I can assure you that they didn't have a wheel of Mimolette in their fridge left over from a photo shoot, either. Why else would they say such hateful things?
It wasn't an article in January 4th's edition of the New York Times entitled ""The Winter Cook: Macaroni and Lots of Cheese" that led me to jump the dietary ship. It wasn't my co-worker telling me that she's perfected the perfect crunchy topping on her homemade mac and cheese. Folks, the reason I'm sure to put those lost pounds back on is really all Martha's fault. Yes, THAT Martha.
This morning while enjoying oatmeal WITHOUT anything and a banana I turned to page 26 of Martha Stewart Living and read an article on cheese. Oh Martha, aren't you cute standing there in front of that counter of cheese, those wedges and slices screaming out to me saying "EAT US MATT! WHO CARES IF YOU'RE FAT - YOU ARE MARRIED AND WE'RE SO CREAMY!". Yes! Martha, I'd love to hear about you devouring "an entire wedge" of Mimolette while you were a young lady traveling in Paris. Sure, I'd like to read about the proper ways to serve cheese while I consume a vegan breakfast at 7am. Go ahead, add insult to injury, I certainly don't mind.
That's it. As of today I'm letting that glorious piece of cheese come out of my fridge and shine like the superstar that it truly is. I'm going to enjoy it for all its worth - in multiple servings, even. I'm going to put on sweat pants and jump into a big, warm comforting bowl of mac and cheese, and I will bury my face in it unashamedly. I will rinse my lips with a good red wine and sleep like a baby, diet be damned.Mac & Cheese with Parmesan Crumb ToppingIt was a surplus wheel of Mimolette that led to the creation of this recipe last year. Yes, it has an insane amount of cheese– invite the family over. Mimolette, the French cheese produced in Normandy, is basically a mature Edam. Nutty, rich, fruity, it gets its color from a natural dye known as annatto.
1 lb macaroni
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 sprig of fresh thyme
4 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb Mimolette cheese, shredded
1/2 lb Grafton 4-year aged cheddar, aged
For the topping:
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the macaroni. Cook until tender and drain well. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9x13-inch baking dish.
2. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and then add the flour and thyme, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk the milk into the butter and flour until smooth and blended. Raise the heat to medium high, whisking constantly until boiling. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until thickened, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Remove the thyme sprig and pour the sauce into a large bowl. Add the shredded cheese and stir until it begins to melt. Add pasta and toss together, then pour the entire mixture into the baking dish.
4. Toss the breadcrumbs and parmesan with the melted butter and spread over the top. Bake about 40 minutes, until sizzling and lightly browned.