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Thomas Keller's Macaroni Gratin (Grati de Macaroni) Recipe

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Ingredients

  • 8 ounces 8 ounces small elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups 3 cups Mornay sauce (recipe follows)
  • Heavy cream if needed
  • 1 cup 1 cup sauteed wild mushroom or 1/2 cup julienned Bayonne ham (optional) * I used 1/2 cup sauteed smoked bacon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • Fresh grated nutmeg
  • 2 to 3 tsp 2 to 3 tsp minced thyme
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 cup grated Comte or Emmentaler chesse * I use Dutch Gouda
  • 2 to 3 tbsp 2 to 3 tbsp panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or dried bread crumbs
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  • Sunday, March 6, 2011
  • Thomas Keller's Macaroni and Cheese
  • Is there such a thing as "the perfect pizza crust" or "the best chocolate cake"?
  • Taste is a very subjective thing. It's a sense that varies from person to person. Everyone has their own preference for sweetness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness. Each of us has his or her own opinion on how the perfect texture should be.
  • My second attempt on Thomas Keller's recipe was his macaroni and cheese or macaroni gratin in his Bouchon cookbook. This recipe is a whole new ball game compared to his simple roast chicken.
  • How hard can it be to cook a macaroni and cheese?
  • If you are familiar with Thomas Keller's recipes, you know most of his recipes are extremely fiddly. His strive for perfection, precision and meticulously detailed instructions are clearly portrayed in all his cookbooks, and in this recipe.
  • 30 30 minutes to cook a Mornay sauce for his macaroni and cheese. Using a diffuser for the saucepan while cooking the Mornay sauce so the heat can be maintained at the lowest level. To him, the humble macaroni and cheese is simply not a fast food.
  • Cloves, nutmeg, bay leaf are added to spice up the dish. Panko crumbs are sprinkled on top to give texture. The details are down to what type of cheese and which type of ham you should use.
  • However, do all of the above make his the best macaroni and cheese?
  • It was a thumbs down from the usually easy to please Mr J. He reckons it's too creamy as opposed to cheesy. He prefers his mac and cheese to have more cheese than cream and milk. The panko crumbs didn't do it for him either.
  • What about my verdict? I am on a post Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year diet. I had salad for dinner while they tucked into this calorie laden dish. That's the price I have to pay for living with two stick thin, genetically well blessed humans.
  • Thomas Keller's Macaroni Gratin (Grati de Macaroni) Recipe
  • (Adapted from Thomas Keller's Bouchon)
  • Serves 4
  • Thomas Keller, "A standard dish in bistros, not to mention an American favorite - macaroni and cheese. This version is tossed with a Mornay sauce seasoned with nutmeg, sprinkled with thyme and bread crumbs, and baked until bubbling and crispy on top."
  • Ingredients
  • 8 ounces 8 ounces small elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups 3 cups Mornay sauce (recipe follows)
  • Heavy cream if needed
  • 1 cup 1 cup sauteed wild mushroom or 1/2 cup julienned Bayonne ham (optional) * I used 1/2 cup sauteed smoked bacon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • Fresh grated nutmeg
  • 2 to 3 tsp 2 to 3 tsp minced thyme
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 cup grated Comte or Emmentaler chesse * I use Dutch Gouda
  • 2 to 3 tbsp 2 to 3 tbsp panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or dried bread crumbs
  • Method
  • 1 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender; drain, rinse under cold water, and drain on paper towels.
  • 2 2. Meanwhile, put a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F.
  • 4 4. Pour into an 8-cup gratin dish, such as a 9-by-15-inch oval, or into individual gratin or baking dishes. Sprinkle the top with the thyme, cheese, and bread crumbs.
  • Mornay Sauce Recipe
  • Makes 3 cups
  • Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup 2/3 cup diced Spanish onion
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 2/3 cup 2 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1 1 /3 cup heavy cream or as needed
  • 1 1 bay leaf
  • 4 4 black peppercorns
  • 4 4 whole cloves
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 cup grated Comte or Emmentaler cheese

Details

Preparation

Step 1

Mornay sauce:
1. Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan set on a diffuser over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
3. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly so that the roux doesn't burn or color.
4. Whisking constantly, add the milk and cream and whisk until fully incorporated.
5. Bring to a simmer, whisking, then add the bay leaf, peppercorns, and cloves.
6. Move the pan to one side of the diffuser, away from direct heat to avoid scorching, and bring back to a gentle simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, reaching into the corners of the pan, for about 30 minutes. (If the sauce does begin to scorch, pour it into a clean pan - don't scrape the bottom of the pan - and continue).
7. Remove the sauce from the heat and season to taste with salt, a grating of nutmeg, and a pinch of white pepper.
8. Strain the sauce, add the cheese, and whisk to melt.
9. Use immediately, or place in a storage container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to keep a skin from forming, and refrigerate for up to a week.
10. If the sauce is too thick after refrigeration, it can be thinned with a little heavy cream.


Mac and Cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender; drain, rinse under cold water, and drain on paper towels.
2. Meanwhile, put a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F.
3. Warm the Mornay sauce in a large saucepan over low heat. If the sauce has been refrigerated and seems too thick, thin it with a little additional heavy cream. Remove from the heat and add the macaroni and mushrooms or ham, if using (* I use sauteed smoked bacon). Mix well and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. (The mixture may look loose, but the macaroni will continue to absorb sauce and it will thicken as it bakes.)

4. Pour into an 8-cup gratin dish, such as a 9-by-15-inch oval, or into individual gratin or baking dishes. Sprinkle the top with the thyme, cheese, and bread crumbs.

5. Place the gratin dish(es) on a baking sheet in order to catch any sauce that may bubble over, then place in the oven. Turn the heat down to 375F and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and bubbling around the edges. If the gratin has not browned, turn on the broiler to brown the top.

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