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02/18/08 - Home Made Penne For Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is almost the canonical comfort food. Unfortunately, too many people swear by some packaged version with that wretched cheese style food product and synthetic PVC macaroni. We like macaroni and cheese as much as anyone, but our Domaine Cliche version is something else again.

For starters, we make our own macaroni, or rather, penne, using our hand cranked tube pasta extrusion machine. We stuff the pasta dough in the top, turn the crank and every inch or two cut off four nicely formed penne. The pasta dough is basically flour, eggs, salt and water, and we tend to make the dough a touch damp so it is a bit softer.

Penne in waiting

Old reliable, our tube pasta extruder
The next step is making a bechamel sauce. That's just a half a stick of butter, a few tablespoons of flour and a cup of milk or cream depending on how rich you want it. We like it rich, so we use Dungeness Valley Creamery cream to thicken our milk. Melt the butter, stir in the flour, whisk in the milk. We boil the penne, drain them, then dump them in the bechamel.

So, where is the cheese? We put the cheese on the top. Our favorite is a good aged gruyere, but some folks use Swiss cheese instead. We spread a cup or so of grated gruyere on top and pop the whole dish into the broiler. (It helps if you make the bechamel in a sauce pan that can go in the oven). When the cheese is molten, the dish is ready. Comfort is at hand.

Keywords: food