Monday, August 20, 2012

Dirty Mac & Cheese (spoiler alert: no sex stuff)

If you want an inside glimpse of any person's inner child, you need only catch them eating at the end of a rough day. Eyes closed dreamily, perhaps sucking on a giant spoonful of peanut butter, making gutteral noises of pleasure; it's not always pretty, but it's honest.
Rough days make us, as humans, crave comfort, and comfort is conveniently located in... delicious food! It's a good system. Just what type of food usually depends on who your mommy was. Odds are, at least one of your absolute favorite foods is something your mom made just so, or even something packaged she served you; not necessarily anything complicated or complex, just a dish she made for you on the regular that you absolutely loved.
For me, it's quesadillas, roast chicken (that's probably a popular mom fave for many), and good, old mac & cheese (another likely front-runner).
So when I got home this evening at the end of a particularly shitty day, I was all about some mac & cheese. As I collected my ingredients and equipment, which included a glorious United Nations of at least nine different cheeses, I came to realize that we were out of AP flour. I had been hoping to make a creamy, extra-gooey mornay as the base for the mac & cheese, and flour is a necessary ingredient to do so. Upon deeper exploration of the pantry, I encountered a few different whole grain flours. Why not? I perused my options and went with buckwheat flour.
My roux was a bit more finicky than usual, as a result of the whole grains and the difference in gluten content of the buckwheat, but with a little finesse and a fair amount of milk, I whipped that shit to smooth, thick, luscious, bechamel beauty, one like I had never seen before.
The whole grain buckwheat added texture, color, and flavor that completely altered the appearence and flavor profile of the sauce; it was actually really pretty. I decided to go with it: I added crispy diced bacon, cacao nibs, a pinch of chili flakes and a little cayenne, then finished with sliced green onions. I grated cheeses into the pan willy nilly, from Pecorino, to Cowgirl Creamery's Fat Bottom Girl, Machego, herbed chevre... whatever I could forage from the cheese drawer (which, in our refrigerator, holds great riches). I used orecchiette for my "mac," their tiny, al dente pockets filling up with ooey-gooey molecules of cheesy comfort.
I called it "Dirty Mac & Cheese," and it was sensational.
That's the best part of cooking; every roadblock or wrong turn is an opportunity to try something new and create something original. Necessity is the Mama Celeste of invention... or something like that.

No comments:

Post a Comment