Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Mac for All Seasons

In Canada, maple syrup is one of the most recognizable signs of the coming spring.
(The sap buckets that hang from maple trees signal to us that it will soon be safe to leave the igloo.)

For me this dish represents the return of inspiration and the best of what spring and summer will bring. (Yes, this is how I talk about mac and cheese sometimes.)

With as much saturated fat as anything on the menu at Au Pied de Cochon's sugar shack, it won't exactly help you get ready for swimsuit season, but I promise it will take the chill out of the last bit of winter. 



For bread crumbs:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh (or 1 cup dry [untoasted]) bread crumbs

For macaroni:
3–5 tbsp chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 lb (450 g) macaroni
2 cups (1 large brick) maple cheddar (like Black River), grated*


Preheat oven to 350°.

Make bread crumbs: Heat oil in a skillet over moderate heat, then cook garlic and bread crumbs, stirring, until crumbs are golden. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Meanwhile cook macaroni until just tender (about 6 min). Drain and transfer to a large shallow casserole dish.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add flour and cook, whisking, 1 min. Gradually whisk in milk and cream, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 min. Stir in cheese until it has been incorporated.

Add the sauce and peppers to the macaroni and stir to combine. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 30 min, or until bubbly.

*If you can't find maple cheddar, that's too bad. You can use sharp white cheddar in its place and add 1–2 tbsp of maple syrup to the cheese sauce as it is cooking.

My inspiration came from a chipotle macaroni and cheese recipe I found on Epicurious that I felt needed something extra and, of course, from those crazy people who like to put maple syrup on their macaroni and cheese.