Friday, May 3, 2013

Mac and Cheese...and Soubise!

You know, dear readers, that I am always a sucker for the clever, subtle rhyme...but the title of today's blog post might just bring me to tears.

A comfort food near and dear to many of us Americans


A fancy French term for a white béchamel with onion infusions


Today's entry title

The inspiration today comes from Michael Ruhlman's Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, A Cook's Manifesto.  This book was added to my collection last weekend, and as I was flipping through it, the recipe for "Mac and Cheese with Soubise" jumped out at me.  In my Stocks, Soups, and Sauces class this term, I'd just been taking notes on Béchamel - one of the mother sauces, basically flour, butter, and added milk.  A Soubise is an offshoot of a Béchamel, with caramelized, pureéd onion.  

Talk about a serendipitous dovetailing of school learning and real life.  I knew straight away that I'd need to make this dish.  And soon.

But let's get one thing straight.  If you've made mac and cheese from a box most of your life and you love that Velveeta cheesiness, this dish is going to be tough.  There is a significant amount of intuitive sautéing, stirring, chopping, pureéing, etc.  In the end, though, the product is pretty amazing, and tastes like no mac and cheese you've ever had before...

and in this age of highly processed, highly artificial foods...that's a good thing!

Let me try to simplify this as much as I can:

1. Chop a small onion, saute in butter until light brown. Set aside.

2. Mix in equal amounts of butter and flour in hot pan.  Add milk to roux, and whisk until consistency is where you want it.

3. Add onions into the béchamel.  You have now just made a Soubise!  Pureé for smoothness.  Stir in shredded cheese of choice.  I used Gruyere. Add salt and pepper to taste.  (I added some other good stuff, but you don't have to.)

4. Boil elbow macaroni until al dente.  Combine with soubise, and pour all into a casserole dish.

5. Top with melted butter and bread crumbs mixture.  Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, remove foil and go another 15 minutes to brown top.

You'll notice I didn't include measurements.  That's what I mean by intuitive.  Our Culinary Arts instructor has given us a hard time about adhering so faithfully to recipes...we put so much stock in them that we relinquish some of our creativity and instinct.  

So, season it until it tastes good and cook it until it's done!