OH MY GOSH! PLEASE change your dinner plans tonight and make this! It’s amazing. I stopped short of licking my cheesy bowl because I was embarrassed of what my unborn child would think. Seriously, eat this SOON.
My cravings during this pregnancy have been very weird. The first few weeks all I wanted was steak. All hours of the day, with every meal, steak please. About two weeks ago the steak and all meat cravings went away. The thought of slicing meat/chicken/fish, raw or cooked, is not so good on my tummy. But ground beef? BRING IT! It doesn’t make sense, I know. I want really cold salads and veggies, lots of pasta and lots of potatoes. I’m in trouble.
I don’t have exact measurements on this recipe because, honestly, I didn’t think it would turn out so good. These are my best estimates but it will turn out delicious either way. HELLO? It’s cheese and wine.
Basil & Wine Mac N’ Cheese
- 1/2 box uncooked medium shell pasta
- 1 large garlic clove, sliced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/3 tsp yellow mustard, use spicy brown if you have it!
- 1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon, any red wine you may have on hand will work
- 2 cups milk, I used 2%
- 1/2 cup shredded triple cheddar, includes sharp, mild and Vermont white cheddar
- 1 1/4 cup shredded Italian style cheese, includes Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Romano, Fontina & Asiago
- Handful basil leaves, torn by hand or cut with kitchen shears
- Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
Some recipes will tell you to start boiling the pasta and then begin working on the sauce to save time. It’s definitely a great idea IF you need to save time but I didn’t want to dirty two pans. I’m a terrible example. BUT I will save you time by telling your to preheat your broiler. I’m so nice!
I boiled water in a pot, added salt to the water and then added the pasta. I gave it a swirl with a spatula and cooked the pasta for about 7-8 minutes. I drained the pasta and just left it in the colander. That’s right! I just left it in the sink. I’m such a rebel.
I put the pot back on the heat, about medium-high. I added a small drizzle of EVOO, threw in the garlic and butter. I tossed this around a bit and allowed the butter to melt. I didn’t necessarily want color on the garlic, it’s OK if it browns a little but it’s not the goal here so it’s OK if you don’t brown it either. Add the flour and make the roux. A roux is a mix of equal parts fat and flour that acts as a thickening agent when making sauces or soups. In this case our fat is the butter and oil mixture. If done correctly, the roux will look like wet sand and it will bubble just lightly.
Next, add the mustard and wine and toss a bit longer. Your roux will be a beautiful deep purple color. After a minute of letting the alcohol burn off, add the milk. Using a whisk, work quickly and break up the roux into the liquid. It will look lumpy but don’t worry, it’ll look like that until you’ve whisked it enough that it will blend with the milk. Once everything is incorporated, let the milk stand and thicken slightly on medium-high heat. When you see steam coming off of the milk and you’re almost to a boiling point, add the cheeses. You can do it slowly or all at once, either way it will melt.
A couple of points to note here. If you’ve whisked in your cheese and the mixture looks a little runny you can mix a little softened butter and flour (equal parts) in a separate bowl. It’s called a Beurre Manie and is considered a lazy man’s roux. It’ll look like paste but add that slowly into your cheese sauce while whisking and it will thicken up. This is also a great trick if you need to thicken soups, works like a charm! You could also add more cheese if you have it. If your sauce is too thick you can add a little more milk to thin it out.
OK, at this point your sauce will be a nice mauve color. Taste it for salt and add any if your taste buds request it and turn off the heat. Please resist drinking the cheese sauce. I know it’s hard but it will be worth it in the end! Remember our pasta that we just LEFT in the sink? Yeah, take that and add it to your sauce. OH MY GOSH. Stir this together and add the basil. This is the point where I realized HEY, I should blog this recipe, it’s awesome! Here is where my photos began.
Next, take a casserole dish, I used a glass 9 x 9, and spray it with cooking spray. You could even take it a step towards naughty and slather the casserole dish with butter instead. Pour the amazing concoction your have just blended into sweet, sweet harmony into the dish. Using a spatula smooth the top of the pasta and add some breadcrumbs to coat the top. I finished off my breadcrumbs with a little garlic powder and black pepper. You could really add anything, though, Italian spices would be great, too.
Put your pasta under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until it’s golden on top and bubbling around the edges. I didn’t wait to dish up! It was cheesy and runny but I didn’t care. You COULD be sensible and let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes to allow the cheese to set a bit. UHM, I’m not that patient.
This dish is SO good!!! I don’t know if it’s the cheese or the wine that I can’t have at the moment but it makes me so, so happy. I demand that you try it and tell me your thoughts. GET TO IT! OH, and don’t forget the garlic bread! I totally did and regret it because my bowl needed a good cleaning.