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Gourmet Mac and Cheese (Posted On: Wednesday, June 25, 2008)

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There is nothing that personifies comfort food more than good old Mac & Cheese.  Who knew it could be so sophisticated, delicious and easy to make following a few simple steps.  We went behind the scenes at Simcoe County Restaurant to learn how to make the best Mac & Cheese in the world and we’re sharing the secret with you. 

This would be a great recipe to make in bulk or to prepare and freeze in party or individual serving sizes in advance.

With school out for summer get busy in the kitchen.  If you don’t have time…you can always pop by the Simcoe County Restaurant.  Carla and Doug are waiting to see you.

This recipe starts with a white roux, then morphs into a béchamel sauce and then voila…add the pasta and the cheeses and bake.

Ingredients:
• Pasta, about 300 grams.  Traditional elbow macaroni is a natural choice, but the size and shape is up to you.  You could also sub in whole-wheat pasta if you’re on a health kick.
• ¼ cup of butter, salted.  You can also sub in unsalted and add a pinch of salt.
• 1/3rd of a cup of flour
• 1 litre of cold milk.  Two-percent is recommended, but any percent will do.
• 1 clove
• 1 bay leaf
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• ½ teaspoon of whole black peppercorn
• 1/8th of a cooking onion chopped in large pieces

The Cheeses:
• 1/3rd of a cup of Asiago grated
• 1/3rd of a cup of Parmesan grated
• 1 cup grated Mozzarella
• ½ - 1 cup of 35% cream

Method:
• Cook pasta and set aside to cool.  Do not rinse cooked pasta with water, just strain and spread out on a baking sheet or pan to cool down.  By spreading out the cooked pasta, you will avoid large clumps of pasta sticking together.

• Melt butter in a heavy bottom stainless steel pot over a medium heat.  Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon.  Doug showed me a neat trick…he uses a flat edge wooden spoon that reaches into that space where the sides and the bottom of the pot meet.

• The melted butter and flour turns into a paste called a white roux.  Cook this for approx 10 minutes stirring constantly.  Watch your heat so as not to scorch.

• Wisk in cold milk.  Add onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and clove.  Bring to a boil whisking constantly.  Turn down heat and cook for approximately 20 minutes stirring occasionally and watching diligently.  You have just made béchamel sauce.

• Strain sauce through a wire mesh strainer to remove any lumps and strain out onion, peppercorns, clove and bay leaf.  Discard lumps and let béchamel sauce cool.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming as the sauce cools.

Putting it all together.

• Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

• In a large bowl, mix cold pasta with cold béchamel sauce, cheeses and 35% cream.  Using your hands is the best way to evenly incorporate all of the ingredients.

• Place mixture in individual serving dishes or one large pan…your choice.  Bake for approx. 20 minutes for smaller size dishes and about 35 minutes if you are using a larger pan.

Simcoe County Restaurant

Simcoe County Restaurant is a quaint, informal European style diner whose open kitchen design allows patrons to watch the chefs at work. Proprietors Carla Carbone & Doug Porter both trained in Switzerland at Ecole Hotleier "Les Roches" and have worked in a variety of superb restaurants in Toronto & Whistler and have returned to Ontario to fulfill dream - to operate a unique dining establishment of their own. Located in the heart of Historic Downtown Collingwood, Simcoe County Restaurant is dedicated to promoting local, seasonal & high quality products and the menu is an eclectic collection of International foods & simple rustic fare. Simcoe County Restaurant now features the 100-mile burger and serves up the best Mac & Cheese in the Georgian Triangle. Simcoe County is fully licensed and you can even bring your own wine for a small corkage fee.

Simcoe County Restaurant is located at 206 Hurontario Street and you can call them at 705.445.6957 if you have any questions about this recipe or would like to make reservations for lunch or dinner.

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