Monday, September 20, 2010

Three Cheese Mac & Cheese

Cheese. MMmmm! I can never have enough. Especially when it comes to Mac & Cheese. 

I had yesterday off and took full advantage of it. I had a relaxing morning before running 12.5 miles in preparation for the Leaf Peeper's Half Marathon in 2 weeks. The weather was beautiful - in the 60s. I definitely didn't want the day to end because I knew it meant that we're one day closer to the cold weather of winter. 

I found a recipe for this mac & cheese a few months ago. I changed some of the ingredients, either because the cheese wasn't sold in 5 oz packages, or because I couldn't allow myself to use all of the half & half that the recipe called for (actually it called for heavy cream!). Thank goodness herbs are durable plants. We still had thyme growing in our herb box that I picked just for this recipe.

Three Cheese Mac & Cheese

3/4 box of Penne
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp cheese
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. 

Boil water and cook penne 11-13 minutes. Drain pasta and return to the pot. 

While pasta is cooking, add the half and half, onion, and garlic to a larger saucepan, and bring to a simmer. 

Pour half of the cream mixture into a bowl. Gradually whisk the flour into the mixture. Once flour has been fully blended, pour back into the saucepan and whisk the entire mixture for 3 minutes. Cream should thicken.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the half of the Parmesan and all of the goat and cheddar cheeses to the crease. Whisk until cheese are fully melted. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, 1 tsp of thyme, and salt and and pepper to taste. 

Place the egg yolk into a separate bowl. Slowly  add 1/2 of the cheese cream into egg, whisking as you go. This will prevent the egg from cooking immediately, and will keep it creamy. Add the egg mixture back into the sauce pan, and fully mix. 

Cover the penne with the cheese sauce and mix throughout. Pour pasta and cheese into a baking dish. Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan over the pasta and bake for 25 minutes. Pasta should be golden brown. Place the remaining thyme on top around the top of the dish, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

What my taste buds told me: I loved the addition of the thyme. It added a little pizazz to the dish. I would have preferred to have had a creamier dish, so perhaps more cheese sauce and less baking time. 

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