January 18, 2007

Mac and Cheese. There is very little that is more comforting than a bowl of pasta and cheese. But I think I have taken it to the next level.

Oh yes. Some small chunks of pastrami. Farfalle pasta. Delicious cheddar and Parmesan sauce. Crushed buttery Ritz crackers on top. Baked until golden and bubbly. If you are a mac and cheese connoisseur, you must try this one out.

I found this recipe in a great two-for-one cookbook called, The Comfort Food Cookbook. It has two sections: Mac and Cheese and Meat and Potatoes. How incredibly retro! There are some quite sophisticated recipes to be found, but also some down-home, no frills recipes that you can make with ingredients readily found on hand.

I don't know what it is about cookbooks that feature one main ingredient or dish, but I just can't get enough of them!

Artie's Deli Mac and Cheese
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

4 Tbsp. butter, plus extra for the baking dish
1/2 lb. farfalle
1/4 c. flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups (about 1/2 lb) grates sharp Cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 lb pastrami, diced (scant cup)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
10 Ritz crackers, pulsed in the food processor, about 1/3 cup crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350-f degrees. Butter an 8 x 8-inch baking dish.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the farfalle until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

3. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the 4 Tbsp. butter. Sprinkle the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, stirring, and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until almost boiling and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the cheeses and stir until melted and incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the pastrami and lower the heat. Add the pasta and season with salt and pepper.

4. Transfer the pasta to the baking dish and top with the cracker crumbs. Bake until browned and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

Recipe from The Comfort Food Cookbook by Joan Schwartz