Fall Comfort Food: Sauces and Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Saturday seems like an eternity ago….

I was really tired going into Saturday’s class from a late night, not to mention my ankle was swollen to about 3x its normal size after a few spills. Needless to say, a Saturday night class seemed daunting.

Saturday was sauce day, so we worked on the 5 French mother sauces (named this because they are the basic sauces from which many other sauces can be derived). I got to work with a guy that has quickly become one of my better friends at school. I was glad that we worked pretty well together too.

We managed most of our sauces with little criticism from Chef, but had a harsh wakeup call when we went to make our white wine sauce. The sauce requires a decent amount of heavy cream, but there was little more than a drop left by the time we gathered our ingredients together. This was our second-to-last recipe of the night, and Chef seemed a bit less patient by this point. He basically said there was nothing he could do about the fact that there was no heavy cream left. Instead of pouring out some of the mixture to make it a bit equal to the amount of cream we had (why didn’t we think of this at the time!!), we just made do with the small amount of cream we had, but it just wasn’t enough and our sauce was far from what it should have been. Oh well! I guess we are still learning, and everything isn’t going to come out perfectly every time.

Bechamel Sauce

Bechamel

Besides my aching foot and the unsuccessful white wine sauce, class was pretty fun and very filling. One of the more advanced levels was hosting a charcuterie buffet—I didn’t love the stuff, but it was great to try a lot of different things made by others in the program. We also made homemade macaroni and cheese with the béchamel (creamy butter and milk sauce basically) AND we had the normal family dinner which consisted of sundried tomato and mozzarella risotto, carrots, pork, and more. Now you see why it’s hard to stay skinny and be a chef!?

Charcuterie Plate

Blurry Charcuterie Plate

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Inspired by a recipe Chef served us at FCI
Serves 8

16 ounces elbow/penne pasta

4 cups bechamel (recipe below)

4 cups sharp cheddar, shredded

1/2 cup breadcrumbs, toasted (recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cook pasta according to package directions and prepare bechamel sauce.

2. While bechamel thickens, prepare toasted breadcrumbs.

3. Place pasta in casserole dish and cover with bechamel. Stir in cheese and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

4. Bake for 30 minutes.

Bechamel
Adapted from FCI textbook
Yields approximately 4 cups

3 T butter

4 T flour

1 liter milk

salt, to taste

cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

nutmeg, to taste (optional)

1. Melt butter over high heat. Gradually whisk in flour, careful not to let butter or flour brown (This makes what is called a roux and it is a thickening agent for your sauce). Whisk until mixture is frothy.

2. Add milk and bring to a boil (a rolling boil is imperative to cook out flour taste and help sauce thicken). Turn heat down and simmer mixture for 10-15 minutes, until thickened.

3. Add salt, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg.

Toasted Breadcrumbs
Yields 1/2 cup

1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

2 T butter

1. Melt butter and stir in breadcrumbs over medium heat stirring constantly (to prevent breadcrumbs from burning) until toasted to a dark golden.


Homemade Macaroni and Cheese With Bechamel

Recreated the mac and cheese with bechamel for my family

 *Note: I didn’t price out any of this recipe because I didn’t plan on sharing it, but since it requires very few ingredients, it’s very inexpensive and easy to make. 

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