Food & Drink

I'm Chris - or Christopher - or Mr. Dean - or Master Christopher - or just plain Sir. I'm a self-professed foodie. I love to cook and I take great pleasure in all things edible. My husband and I are relatively new to Portland, Oregon and are enjoying our culinary explorations of the area!

Food is NOT just fuel!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Birthday Dinner: Macaroni & Cheese

I make a version of macaroni & cheese for keith every year for his birthday.  This one was lusciously decadent - so rich and creamy it was hard to put the fork down.  And then a food coma set in immediately upon finishing the meal.  :)

I've made many, many different versions of macaroni & cheese over the years.  And I believe I can say with certainty that one of my favorite ingredients is cherry tomatoes.  I also really like wilted spinach served with macaroni & cheese - but I resisted that this time.

I'm warning you ahead of time, this is a rich and heavy meal.  I think in the future it's going to be a side dish and not the main need something light and green to balance out the weight of this macaroni & cheese in your tummy!  But it was for my husband on his birthday, so we indulged!!

Macaroni & Cheese
6 Tbl. butter
1/2 cup flour
2 - 3 cups milk**
1/2 pound Gruyere, freshly shredded
1/2 pound Cheddar, freshly shredded
1/2 pound Aged Provolone, freshly shredded
1/2 pound Fontina, freshly shredded
5 slices bacon
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pound pasta (elbow macaroni is classic)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. pepper
bread crumbs

**I used 4 cups - WAY creamy.  I'd go with 3 if you like it creamy & rich.  Add up to 2 cups and then add more depending on personal taste.  Also, I'm lactose intolerant so  I used Lactaid and it worked just fine.

First the bacon - I laid them out on a baking sheet, and baked them at 350 degrees until crispy.  Set aside on a paper towel to drain.  Leave the oven on at 350 degrees.  Start heating up the water for the pasta in advance so it's ready when you are.

In a pot over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the flour, whisking it in completely.  Continue whisking for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour flavor out.  Slowly add the milk, whisking the whole time to make sure it incorporates.  Cook for 5 minutes or so, whisking frequently.  At this point you could cook your pasta according to the package instructions.  Add all of the cheeses into the milk mixture, stirring constantly to combine everything together.  Make sure all of the cheese is melted before continuing.

Add the cooked pasta, crumbled bacon, nutmeg, pepper, and the tomatoes (fresh - not cooked).  Turn off the heat and stir the mixture to combine everything evenly.  Pour into a baking dish.  Cover the top with a thin layer of bread crumbs (preferably big ones like Panko).  Bake for 30 minutes, until the macaroni & cheese is bubbling and the top begins to brown slightly.  Serve immediately!


  1. Oh. My. God. This looks amazing and is something I should probably never make. But I am going to. Soon. For once, I am glad I am nowhere near a store, because I would probably be on my way there right now to buy all the cheese that I need to make this. I had a bowl of watermelon for dinner. Sigh. It was good at the time,I wasn't that hungry, and it was 95 here today, so it sounded good, but now I want this. Seriously, it looks great.


  2. It's heavy, rich and delicious - a meal you can lose yourself in. :)

  3. So when the first bite hit my mouth, I thought, "Hmmm? It's good, but not great." I was expecting Nirvana. Everyone at the table grabbed the salt. I took another bite. Not loving. What is wrong? Why has Christopher forsaken me? Don't get me wrong, it was good, but not worth the impending pounds and heart problems. We finished our meal and everyone agreed, good, but not worth it. I had to be honest and I went to my computer to write my review and looked at the recipe again and realized that ding bat (me) omitted the one ingredient that would have brought it all together. In my pandora radio, 80's, new wave haze, I left out the cheddar. Ugh! So my fault and all is well because I heated it up for the kids' thermos for school and added the cheddar and took a big fat bite and all was well with the universe. I am blond, by the way. Hope this gives you a giggle this morning.

  4. Oh! And I used spinach b/c 1/2 the family doesn't like cooked tomatoes and an apple smoked beef bacon from Trader Joe's that was delish.

  5. That's so funny - I think I omitted the cheddar one time thinking I'd try something new. And it didn't work for me either. :) I am very happy to hear that I didn't let you down.

    And I DID make ribs last night thanks to you! I'll post those this afternoon. YUM!