Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Best Baked Mac & Cheese

We all know I'm a little bit of a cheese nut. Josh thinks I actually may be made out of cheese. But what can I say? I love it in all forms. Especially in the form of mac & cheese.

So I've basically gone on a quest to find the best in Boston. I've probably ordered it over 30 times in the last 2 years all over the city, which has led to some disappointments, but also some of the best meals of my life. And I want you to have them too. So here are my top 6 mac & cheese destinations in Boston to date. And if you have a favorite that's not on the list, PLEASE let me know! Can't stop, won't stop.

1. The Sinclair in Harvard Square mixes it up with bacon and asparagus. The herb breadcrumbs add a delicious crunch to the chewy goodness. ($9)

2. The Publick House in Brookline has a reputation for the best mac & cheese in Boston. So of course I had to try it. I don't know if I would say it beats out the others on this list, but it's pretty damn good. The orrechetti pasta is cooked in a 5 cheese sauce and you can pick from tons of add-ins, including braised short ribs, truffle cream, or scallops. ($11)

3. Lucky's Lounge in the Seaport is the only place you can listen to Sinatra while you eat mac & cheese. Plus they are the only place I've come across that uses radiatori pasta, which is old school but my favorite. Their mac & cheese is far from gourmet - it's super cheesy and smothered in Ritz crackers - but it seriously hits the spot when you have a craving. And at only $10 for a serving size that would feed a family of 5, you can't beat it. ($10)

4. The Local in Newton is still one of my favorite little hidden gems in all of the Boston area and was one of my faves when I lived in Brighton, They have all locally-sourced food, an awesome New England beer list, a fun, cozy atmosphere, and not one but TWO mac & cheese options (both delicious, yes I've had both): chicken, chive & bacon ($11) or lobster & 3 cheese ($15).

5. I'm putting Harvest Restaurant in Harvard Square on this list even though I'm mad at them for listing their mac & cheese on their "For the Table" menu section. Your not going to want to share this amazing dish with smoked Gouda (enough said) and lobster with the table like I had to. Trust me, get your own. Or get your own table. ($14)

6. Josh and I stumbled upon The Fireplace in Brookline last year when we were bored one night and decided to try a new restaurant. And I'm so glad we did. I'm just going to copy and paste the menu description for this one, because it speaks for itself. Cue mouth watering... ($18)

LOBSTER/STEAK MAC & CHEESE

Classic Lobster Mac Rib Eye
with Caramelized Onion & Horseradish Cheese
Landaff Creamery (VT), Fresh Mozzarella (MA),
Cabot Cheddar (VT), Cave Aged Gruyere, Asiago,
Garlicky Broccoli and Lemony Spinach


 But in all these experiences, nothing has ever compared to the good old baked mac & cheese I make at home. Josh has literally been asking for it since the day he moved in, and I finally caved and we made it this week. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn't had Cabot cheddar for a while or maybe it was the massive amounts of bacon that josh added but I must say...I think it was the best batch ever. Here is the recipe!
Ingredients:
1 box elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons salted butter
3 tablespoons flour
Black pepper
2.75 cups of 2% milk
4 cups (or 2 bags) of shredded cheddar cheese (I use Cabot Seriously Sharp)
Frozen peas
1 pack of bacon
Loaf of hard bread (I usually use french, ciabatta or sourdough)
 
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Tear up loaf of bread into bread crumbs of desired size
  3. Cook bacon and dice into small pieces
  4. Cook macaroni al dente and place aside in buttered baking dish
  5. In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Sprinkle flour into butter and whisk constantly until you have a thick, smooth paste (about 3 mins).
  6. Gradually whisk in milk and desired amount of black pepper (I use a TON) and continue stirring until sauce thickens and returns to a simmer.
  7. Reduce heat to low. Add 3.5 cups of cheese, peas, and bacon and stir the sauce until cheese is melted.
  8. Pour the sauce into the prepared baking dish over the pasta and mix around until well blended.
Next up? Baked mac & cheese with apple sauce and apple sausage! Um...yum.

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