F.I. Macaroni and Cheese.

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FI0901FI0902Macky2

Yes, I’m sorry.  Another savory.

I hope you’ve gathered from past posts that Fire Island is a fantastic place to be.  The best place to be, I think, for the months of June through September when it’s too hot to really do anything else beside swim, read, go beach, and tan.  Highly productive and tiresome activities, I know.  It’s perhaps, my favorite place in the world.

Every summer since I was born, except one very sad dismal summer when I was nine—though granted, we did go to France, so I can’t really complain—we’ve gone to Fire Island.  The ferry ride out for the summer is especially heartbreaking, signifying the end of days spent on the beach, on the deck, tanning, riding around on bicycles.  It’s sad, but we’ll always go back.

For the last of the Fire Island entries, now posted form the comfort of New York City, is an all-time favorite.  The most epic of all beach foods.  Perfect for eating in the sand.  Cool and refreshing…. Not.  Though it is an all-time favorite.

Macaroni and Cheese.  A friend I was at the beach with requested it, and really, do you need an excuse for cheesy pasta?  And the Seaview Market on the island has really excellent Gruyere, among other things like whitefish, produce, coffee, coffee cake….

Yea, okay.  Nothing is bad on the island.

Macky1

Macaroni and Cheese

For 6 slightly hungry people, 3 very hungry people

For Macaroni and Cheese, I actually prefer medium-sized shells.  I find that you get a much greater sauce to noodle ratio per bite.  And I hate to break it to you, but Mac n’ Cheez is all about the sauce.  And the cheez.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 ½ cups milk
¼ lb. Gruyere cheese, grated
¼ lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
¼ cup Parmesan or mixed cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

2 ½ cups medium shell pasta, dry
1 cup breadcrumbs or 3 slices of stale bread, chopped and smoushed
1 clove garlic
Old Bay or steak seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil, just enough to fully moisten breadcrumbs

1.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter.  Add flour and stir together to form a thick paste.  Brown this roux until slightly golden.  Pour in the milk and stir continuously with a whisk or wooden spoon for about 5-10 minutes or until mixture has greatly thickened.  Add freshly ground nutmeg to taste.  (I use less that ½ of a teaspoon.)  Lower heat to just barely a simmer.

2.  Add grated Gruyere to the béchamel—milk mixture—and stir until melted and incorporated.  Repeat with the sharp cheddar and Parmesan or mixed cheese.  Stir in the Dijon mustard and then salt and pepper to taste.  I find that with all the cheese, very little, but still some, salt is needed to bring out the flavors.  Remove from heat.  At this point either refrigerate the cheese sauce and then reheat in a saucepan when ready to use, or use immediately.

3.  For breadcrumbs, toast the chopped bread in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until dry and slightly toasty.  In a bowl, combine the clove garlic, chopped very finely, the seasoning and salt and pepper with the toasted breadcrumbs.  Moisten with the olive oil or butter.

4.  Boil shell pasta in lightly salted water until thoroughly cooked—NOT al dente.  Drain pasta and pour into cheese sauce.  In a 9 by 13 baking dish or one of similar capacity, pour the pasta mixture.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown in a 350 degree oven.

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