I love my mom's (aka The New Joy of Cooking's) macaroni and cheese and did not think this classic could be improved upon. That was, until I wanted to make it and didn't have any cheddar on hand and decided to get creative. Who knew that a little cooking sherry, shallots, and some gouda could make an already incredible dish divine?! I literally could have licked the bowl (and just may have) after making the cheese sauce - it's really that good. The only thing that could have possibly made this dish any better would have been the addition of lump crab meat, which would have been perfect with the sherry and shallot flavors. If you decide to try it, let me know what you think.
Smoked Gouda Mac n' Cheese
8 oz macaroni noodles, cooked according to package directions
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 C finely chopped shallot
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 C dry cooking sherry
2/3 C milk
1 C freshly grated smoked gouda
1/2 C freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°.
Melt butter over medium heat in a cast iron skillet or large frying pan. Add shallots and cook until golden in color, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle fllour into skillet to begin making a roux. The flour should pull the butter and shallot together into a clumpy mass (add more butter if needed to pull mixture together). Add sherry and stir for about 1 minute. Add milk and stir well. Stir in gouda, one handful at a time, stirring until each addition has melted. Repeat with parmesan. Stir in mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Stir cooked pasta into cheese mixture and stir to incorporate. Pour into a 2 quart baking dish and top with additional grated gouda and parmesan, if desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Turn broiler on high and continue to cook until top is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
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