The thing about macaroni and cheese is that it makes perfect comfort food for those days when all hell seems to have broken loose and you find your heart and spirit shattered beyond immediate repair. Soft, chewy, creamy, savory, it is utterly soothing, comforting, and stodgy enough to fill an empty belly if not an empty heart.
However, I had a problem with the macaroni and cheese recipe I fiddled with a while back. It wasn’t rich enough for me; not as unctuous as I wanted it to be. I wanted something decadent and satisfying, so a case of the weekend blues last Saturday led to the creation of today’s recipe.
Like the caption says, this dish has not one, not two, but four kinds of cheese melting seductively onto the pasta. Mild Cheddar and some cream cheese with garlic and herbs were melted into the roux-based sauce. Then, the dish was topped with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses before baking.
Now, perhaps that much cheese alone will make for a rich dish, but when you’re really blue, then you need more stuff with which to make the dish substantial. So, I made polpettini – miniature Italian(esque) meatballs – and threw in two kinds of mushrooms into the fray. The meatballs were actually made with the mixture for my homemade sausage patties, so they’re made savory and fragrant with sage and thyme. For the mushrooms, I used a can of sliced buttons and a packet of oyster mushies. I suppose Portobellos and Swiss browns would also be nice.
Four-cheese Macaroni Casserole
- 1 batch uncookedsausage mix
- 500 grams macaroni, prepared according to package directions
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and minced
- 225 grams (1 small box) Cheddar cheese, shredded
- 75 grams cream cheese with garlic and herbs
- 1-1/4 cups milk
- 1 can sliced button mushrooms, drained
- 250 grams oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Cook the macaroni according to package directions, then drain. Set aside.
Roll teaspoons of the sausage mix into meatballs; you’ll pretty much end up with 30 meatballs. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and heat till sizzling. Brown the meatballs in the butter in batches of six. Set aside.
Cook the onion in the fat leftover from browning the meatballs until softened. Add the garlic, then cook till browned. Add the mushrooms and cook for about a couple minutes. Add the flour and cook until browned and the smell is rather toasty and nutty. Add the meatballs.
Pour in the milk and cook whilst stirring till slightly thickened. Add the shredded Cheddar and the cream cheese. Cook whilst stirring till the cheeses are melted and the sauce is bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in the macaroni till all the noodles are well-coated.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4. Pour the sauced macaroni into a lightly buttered baking dish. Evenly sprinkle over the Parmesan and mozzarella. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for about a couple minutes, then serve.
Serves 8 – generously, if I may add.
This dish is amazing hot and is so comforting in that state. My siblings, however, are of the opinion that this dish is – like well-plotted revenge – best served cold. :p