But first, how does it taste? Since I was bringing it to a pot luck, I par baked it for 30 minutes (instead of the required 40), wrapped it in foil and cruised across town to the party. The hot cheese smell in the car was a bit overwhelming, to the point where I thought I might be serving a limburger pie. Crossing my fingers that wasn't the case, I finished off the casserole in the host's oven for 12 minutes and blasted it under the broiler for an additional 5 to brown and crisp the top crust. I added another five minutes to cool it off and the moment of truth was upon us - was this a hot stinky mess? The finished product was actually the most mild mac and cheese I've ever tasted! Creamy, crunchy with a delicious note of green earthiness from the chard, you can pretend this is a healthy mac all you want, but the three helpings you'll eat are decidedly not!
Here is the recipe, reprinted from epicurious.com, with my modifications included. Happy mac'n!
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3 cups reduced-fat (2%) milk
2 cups (packed) coarsely grated aged Gouda cheese plus 1/2 cup finely grated (about 10 ounces total) - I used regular Gouda
2 cups (packed) coarsely grated Edam cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, stems and center ribs removed (I used a package of mixed "Euro Greens" which included Swiss chard, red chard, kale and mustard greens. A little less than a pound will do.)
12 ounces elbow macaroni
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless sourdough bread - I used a French demi-baguette
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (addition)
Cumin seeds (optional)
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, then flour; stir constantly 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture begins to boil, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups coarsely grated Gouda and 1 cup Edam. Stir until cheeses melt, about 2 minutes. Stir in cayenne and nutmeg. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter. Place breadcrumbs in medium bowl. Drizzle butter over; toss. Add 1/2 cup finely grated Gouda (I used Parmesan cheese instead) and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over mac and cheese. Sprinkle cumin seeds over, if desired.
Bake mac and cheese until breadcrumbs are golden and edges are bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Devour at once!