Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese Blues - Conchiglia alla Formaggio Azzuro

A funny thing happened on the way to my Google Reader. My friend Joe over at EspressoJoe SanSanity had made his infinitely delicious Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese. Which, of course, set my stomach into overdrive and triggering my OCD. OK, obsession is 9/10ths aggravation. I say this because it never seems to fail. When I REALLY REALLY REALLY need to find something, (did I mention "really") suddenly it is no longer available.

I have never had a problem finding cheese in this town. OK, aside from the obscure ones like Bitto, mini rounds of Humboldt Fog and Smoked Scamorza. But your standard Dutch cheeses are usually not a problem... being Gouda, Smoked Gouda and Edam. I mean, heck, Trader Joe's alone carries 5 different Goudas; 2 of which are made with goat milk. But since Murphy's Law seems to govern my life, (more frequently than not) it came to pass that, simply because I wanted to make Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese, there was not a single chunk of Smoked Gouda in San Diego County. OYE!!

Needless to say, I became annoyed.. But after 5 grocery stores, including Whole Foods (who was "out") and Trader Joe's, it became apparent that I was to be denied smokey Gouda-ness. Sadly, this snafu did not diminish my, now unbearable, need for Mac and Cheese. So I reached for my favorite "goto" cheese.... Gorgonzola. I would have preferred to use a Gorgonzola Dolce (which is younger and creamier) but I was NOT going to any more grocery stores and was willing to make sacrifices at this point just to have exquisite cheese laden panko crusty goodness for dinner.

Thus was born, out of desperation...

Bleu Mac and Cheese or Conchiglia alla Formaggio Azzuro

A warning, my aged Gorgonzola was really weak this time... so I used 10 oz instead of 8.... But I have had young Gorgonzola (Dolce) that is stronger than some of the aged stuff, so start with 8 oz and work your way up if necessary. Tasting is important. Stilton is pretty consistent, so your fairly safe with 8 oz of this famed English Blue Cheese. If you would like to mellow the flavor out a little replace 2 oz of the Blue Cheese with 2 oz of Danish Fontina (the stuff in the red wax).

16 oz (448 g) Elbow Macaroni or Medium Shells (I prefer Shells)
6 TB unsalted butter
1 Shallots minced fine
1 Garlic clove, minced
5 TB AP Flour
2 cup (16 oz) (480 ml) Whole Milk
3/4 cup (12 oz) (180 ml) Half and Half
1/2 cup (4 oz) (120 ml) Heavy Cream
3/4 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp ground White Pepper
8-10 oz (224 g - 280 g) Gorgonzola, 8-10 oz Gorgonzola Dolce or 8 oz Stilton, Crumbled
1 oz (28 g) grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup (1 oz) (28 g) Panko

Preheat oven to 350°.

Drop Elbow or Conchiglia (shells) into salted boiling water; cooking for 3 minutes less than package directions;

Meanwhile in a large saucepan (larger than the one I used) over medium heat, melt 6 TB butter.
When foam subsides, add shallots and garlic; sautéing for about 1 minute.

Add flour and stir to coat; Continue cooking for 1 – 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until onion roux is light blonde.

Gradually add Milk, Half & Half, Heavy Cream, Salt, and Pepper, whisking constantly until blended and smooth.

Bring to a boil, continuing to whisk constantly; then cook until white sauce becomes thick.

Begin adding the cheeses a little at a time and stir until melted and smooth before next addition.

Drain your pasta well.. and return to the pot.

Pour Gorgonzola sauce over the Conchiglia and toss to coat well.

Spoon mixture into a 2 1/2 quart baking dish (this actually works best) or

if your like me and don't want to be eating it until the next Bleu Moon ;)
Utilize 6 CorningWare Petite dishes rubbed with olive oil or butter.

Sprinkle with Grana Padano,

Then sprinkle with Panko.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until bubbly;

if the top is not browned to your liking, place under the broiler for 3 minutes or so.



Michele said...

Wow that looks fantastic! I don't know anyone who has that many of the same size corningware! Where do you fit it all???

Bob said...

Oh wow. That looks amazing.

And yeah, where do you fit all your cool stuff? Am I the only person left in a tiny apartment?

Shane T. Wingerd said...

HA HA Have you guys seen my kitchen pics on BakeSpace? Here is the link... about half way down the page...


I have some stuff stored under my bed too; pieces I don't use very often...

Heather S-G said...

Oh goodness...this is pure comfort! I love smoked gouda, so just at the words I started to salivate. Delicious :D

Unknown said...

oooh, how cute...you made individual servings. I wish I liked blue cheese cuz that looks amazing!!!