Friday, April 23, 2010

Prosciutto, Caramelized Onion Mac and Cheese with Bacon Fat Crumb

Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio was the inspiration for the easiest pie crust I've ever done. Which in turn kept me in the kitchen to make something fun, I guess you could call that a treat or something, as we are all just animals salivating at the next milkbone. Soy yogurt and granola when you shit on the carpet and mac and cheese when you bring the slippers. Good boy!

The book is exactly what the title suggests-ratios of fat to liquid and flour for all sorts of culinary delights- breads, doughs, cakes, cookies, pastries, etc. Consider the ease of remembering the ratio for a roux- 1 TB of butter, 1 TB of AP flour, will thicken 1 C of liquid. Scale up as desired. Even that deer-in-headlights looking pasty ass Sandra Lee could do that!

Prosciutto, Caramelized Onion Mac and Cheese with Bacon Fat Crumb
6 servings

1 lb cavatappi, cooked al dente
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
5 TB butter
1/2 C AP flour
5 1/4 C whole milk, warm (can be a mix with heavier dairy if desired)
1.5 ts kosher
fresh black pepper
1/2 ts nutmeg, fresh
8 oz. sharp cheddar, freshly grated
4 oz. Gruyere, freshly grated
1 C oz. fresh parm-reg, freshly grated, reserved
6-8 oz prosciutto, thinly sliced then diced
1/3 C caramelized onions
1 TB bacon fat
1/2 C panko breadcrumbs


Coat the pasta with EVOO to prevent sticking once cooked al dente. Done as in still slightly firm, not cooked limp. Fire up the hotbox to tree seven five, rack in lower third.

Panko breadcrumbs work best for this-regular would probably do, but this is something you should have on hand, like a small tub of bacon fat in that little dairy compartment in your fridge, right next to the butter and cream cheese. I mean, you don't really have to 'make' bacon fat. Melt the fat and toast the crumbs in small saute pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes until toasty. Then them sit for 30 second increments to toast nicely without burning.

In a large skillet over medium, melt the butter and add the onion, cooking and stirring for 3-4 minutes or so, just until softened a bit. Add the flour and whisk into a roux, cook for 2 minutes to a light roux, just enough to cook out the flour taste and retain most of the thickening power.

Gradually add the milk while whisking constantly, incorporating all of the roux. Whisk for about 3 minutes, it might take another couple minutes of stirring until thickened after that. Remove from heat, add S&P, nutmeg, and then add cheeses (reserve 1/2 C parm) 1 C at a time, allowing the cheese to melt before each addition.

Combine the pasta, prosciutto, and caramelized onion with the bechamel (a mournay, technically) sauce, stirring well to incorporate. Place into a large, buttered glass casserole dish and spread evenly. Top with remaining parm-reg and then the bacon fat crumb.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown. You could broil for a few minutes at the end too, if you like it well done.

Wine with your mac-n-cheese? Mmmmmokay. Might was well pour the most food friendly grape there is, the pinot noir. This find was a 2008 from the Eola Hills range in Yamhill County, Oregon. I've always liked you, Oregon.

Now that combination makes one a happy human.

The amount shown here is from doubling the recipe for plenty of leftovers. Serve with a few ribbons of parm-reg.

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