Monday, December 3, 2012

Homemade Mac & Cheese

With the cold weather settling in, it's time to make hearty, warming dinners, and of course to find great wines to pair with these heavier meals. It should come as no surprise that when we want something warm and gooey, we make a big dish of Mac & Cheese.

Mac& Cheese is great, because it's easy to make at home, and, if you put a little bit of effort into selecting the cheese, you can end up something very special. We find some great cheeses at our local farmer's market. This time around, we selected an aged cheddar for the main cheese, and a blue cheese for added flavor and richness. Then the trick was to find some wine to go along with it.

Both cheeses had strong flavors: sweet, salt, and a bit of funk from the blue cheese, and more sweet from the cheddar, with some nuttiness. To this end, we decided to look for a strong red wine, with some fruit notes to match the sweet cheese. Walking the aisles of our local wine shop, we spotted something interesting; a 2003 Zinfandel, and decided to give it a try. While the wine wasn't as fruity as we expected, we still made a good selection: the wine was old and rich, with deep earthy notes that held up to the rich cheese, and balanced with the sweetness of the dinner.

It's simple pairings like this that can bring us great joys. We like to experiment with trying new wines, and finding the best dish to match, but its good to know we can make simple selections, and that they will result in a perfectly wonderful dinner.

Mac & Cheese:
1 box Elbow Macaroni
4 tbsp Butter
4 tbsp Flour
2 Cups Milk
4 oz shredded Hard Cheese (Cheddar, Swiss, etc)
4 oz Soft Cheese (Blue, Goat, etc)
1 Cup Breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, approximetly 8 to 10 minutes, then drain.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter, then add the flour and stir until smooth. Add the milk and stir until the mixture thickens. Add the cheese and stir until melted.
  4. Pour the macaroni into a greased 9x13 pan, then pour the cheese over the macaroni and stir in. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the mixture, then bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

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