Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Paula Parmesan's Bacon Mac and Pappardelle Pasta!

Hello, Paula Parmesan here! I'm a fan of Hilary Havarti and Susie Gruyere's WE HEART MAC AND CHEESE blog. I myself have started a "Foodie Friday" blog segment at my website http://paulayoo.com where I feature fun blogs on food I've made or eaten!


I had a friend visiting from out of town who was as obsessed with Mac and Cheese like me, so I decided to make her my favorite recipe which is from Emeril Lagasse. For his recipe, check out this link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/ems-mac-n-cheese-recipe/index.html


So I decided to do a little test kitchen recipe last week in honor of my friend's visit. For my friend's visit, I used regular penne pasta. But for the test kitchen pre-visit recipe, I was tempted by a bag of homemade egg Pappardelle pasta and decided to make an individual sized portion for myself out of these noodles!


Here are the step by step details of what I did pictured below... (Warning: I don't really do measurements, I just eyeball everything, so I apologize for that!)


First, I gathered up some of the ingredients and equipment (pictured below): Cheese grater, salt, pepper, extra sharp cheddar cheese, aged Emmenthal Gruyere cheese, Parmesan Reggiano cheese, flour, and the egg pappardelle pasta.


I grated the cheddar, Gruyere, and Parmesan Reggiano in a bowl. About two cups worth.



Then I melted a couple tablespoons of butter with equal parts flour in a pan to create a roux (pictured above). I also set a quart pan of water to boil on the other stove burner. AND I also turned on the oven to 350 degrees.


Pictured below is what the roux looks like after you mix the flour and butter together for a couple minutes (which also helps get rid of the raw flour taste)...


Then you add milk slowly, stirring it in little by little, until you get this nice white sauce (below). It should be thick but not too thick that it clumps, more like a smooth thick gravy consistency that coats the wooden spoon. (Again, I don't measure stuff but cook by feel and eyeball the ingredients, but if I had to guess, I'd say it was about 3/4 cup of milk I used).

Then you add the cheese and stir it until it melts...

Then you add salt and pepper and a hint of cayenne pepper (pictured below) and stir it all together! Just add a few pinches at a time to taste. Warning re: cayenne pepper - go easy on the stuff, it can overpower your dish. I use barely a pinch of cayenne pepper, really just as an enhancement.

I took this picture (below) to show you how the cheese sauce should be thick and smooth and coat the wooden spoon. If it's too watery, add more flour. Turn off the heat and set this pan of cheese sauce aside.


I didn't have any breadcrumbs so I improvised by grabbing a couple garlic salad croutons (below)...

And by then, the water for the pasta was boiling, so I added the egg pappardelle pasta into the boiling water with some salt and olive oil. I let the pasta cook for 8 minutes. (I dumped in the whole bag.)


Then, once I had my water boiling and the cheese sauce set aside, I returned to the garlic croutons and smashed 'em up with the end of my knife handle. I then added some grated parmesan to the "bread crumb" mixture.


At the last minute, I thought, BACON! Normally I don't care for bacon in my mac and cheese, but I was experimenting. So I chopped up just one strip of bacon (you can use more, but I found one strip was quite enough - bacon is very powerful and can overtake the cheese flavor, so I'd recommend less is more when it comes to bacon and mac & cheese). So I quickly fried up the bacon here (pictured below).


Now what I like about making this mac and cheese dish is that you can really prepare it all in about 30 minutes or less. At this point, the cheese sauce was done, the noodles had cooked, and the bacon had fried. Maybe about 20 minutes had gone by. So I drained the noodles and added them to the pan of cheese sauce (pictured below).


I then stirred the pasta and cheese sauce together until all the noodles were coated. Now... I did make one mistake. By dumping in the entire bag of pasta, I had no idea the egg pappardelle would expand like it did, so I did not really have enough cheese sauce for a proper mac & cheese dish. It really became more of a light coating. But given how flavorful the egg pappardelle pasta was, it actually turned out to be quite tasty still. I would recommend perhaps doubling the cheese sauce ingredients if you want to make this with a whole bag of pasta. I might even triple it!


Then I poured the pasta and cheese sauce into a baking dish. Because I realized I didn't have enough cheese sauce, I went ahead and grated another cup of sharp cheddar and gruyere and sprinkled it, along with my crouton "bread crumbs" on top and then added the bacon on top (pictured below). I then put this in the oven (which I had started pre-heating at 350 degrees at the start of this foodie adventure) and let it bake for 20 minutes.


And here was the final result, pictured below. Cheesy, bacon-y goodness!


Pictured below is a small plate I made for my lunch. It tasted delicious. The one strip of bacon was surprisingly strong, so definitely my decision to use less bacon was a wise one. The cheese sauce lightly coated the pappardelle, and it made for a rich and hearty lunch. I would recommend pairing this with a light salad of mixed greens and arugula and a quick dressing of olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh lemon juice.

I also created a picture gallery of this where you can click on each picture for a closer look at my own website:

Now when my friend and her family visited me later in the week, I made the same recipe but with regular penne pasta and a TON MORE CHEESE. I basically melted eight tablespoons of butter (about a stick and a half of butter) with eight tablespoons of flour to the make the roux, then added about 4 cups of milk to create the white sauce, then added basically an entire block of Gruyere cheese and about half a block of sharp cheddar sauce. This was enough sauce to cover the entire pound of penne pasta with a thick layer of cheesy goodness.

Now, I am off to eat some leftover... what else? ... Mac and Cheese! :)