Blogger and author Mimi Thorisson has a new cookbook out that will kindle a delicious love affair with the cuisine of the French countryside. Starring the best-quality ingredients sourced from small outdoor markets, family-owned purveyors and home gardens, this collection of recipes elevates a simple, humble cuisine to the highest level.
This section of the book turned out to be a who’s who of comfort food — and it wouldn’t be complete without the king of comfort foods: mac and cheese. As a kid in Hong Kong, I remember reading about this exciting dish and desperately wanting to try it. I also remember my disappointment when, having coaxed my mother or some nanny into buying a ready-made version, I realized that maybe it wasn’t the best food in the world after all. But all that is relative. You reap as you sow. I still believe in the power of mac and cheese when it is done right. With just enough glorious, pungent cheese, it can still be, on a good day, the best food that a little girl ever dreamed existed.
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 5 tablespoons butter, plus more for the pan
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch nutmeg
- Pinch piment d'espelette or mild chile powder
- 1 pound dried small penne or macaroni pasta
- About 2 2/3 cups mimolette cheese
- About 1 1/3 cups comté cheese, grated
For the mac and cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a large ovenproof skillet.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In a food processor, pulse the breadcrumbs with the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the butter.
In a medium skillet, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Immediately whisk in the milk, little by little, and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the mustard, nutmeg, and piment d’Espelette and season with salt and pepper.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente according to the package directions.
Whisk half of each cheese into the sauce. When the pasta is al dente, drain and mix the pasta into the sauce in the pan until well combined along with the rest of the grated cheese.
Pour the pasta mixture into the buttered ovenproof skillet. Scatter the breadcrumb mixture all over the dish and transfer to the oven. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot.