Tag Archives: comfort food

Mac & Cheese – Ultimate Comfort Food

Comfort food. It means different things to different people.

I have a friend who thinks of fried chicken as comfort food. To be completely honest, she thinks of fried chicken, period. In her world, fried chicken is its own food group on the pyramid.

For me, macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Like most people, I grew up on the blue box of Kraft mac and cheese.

I’m all grown up now, and I want a better mac and cheese.

I found one at ZOOM in Park City, Utah.

It isn’t so gourmet that it loses the homey comfort of pasta bathed in cheese, but it’s gussied up enough to make the Kraft mac and cheese seem like child’s play.

I love the fat, ribbed shells, the gooey, herb-flecked cheese sauce, and the crunch from toasted bread crumbs.

I even found the recipe in a cookbook I bought. The book is called Park City Cooks: An Eclectic Collection of Park City Recipes.

All the proceeds from the cookbook go to The Peace House, a non-profit organization that provides education, shelter and support services to women who are victims of domestic violence.

The recipes are from members of the Park City community, and in the back of the book, there are a few recipes from the local restaurants, including this recipe from ZOOM.

ZOOM is owned by The Sundance Resort (Robert Redford’s remarkable property about 35 miles from Park City).

As I licked the plate clean, I thought to myself “I’d love to have that recipe.” And lo and behold, it appeared. I love when that happens.

Now you can have it, too.

ZOOM White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

from Park City Cooks

12 Servings

1-1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs from crustless French bread
3/4 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
8 tablespoons butter, divided
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups grated white cheddar cheese (about 1 pound)
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 pound macaroni

Mix the breadcrumbs, Asiago and paprika in a medium bowl.

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir for three minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk, then the mustard and pepper.

Cook until thickened, stirring often, about 1o minutes. Stir in the cheddar and parsley.

(The topping and the sauce can be made 1 day ahead, stored separately. Cool the sauce slightly, then cover and refrigerate. Refrigerate the topping, too. Re-warm the sauce, stirring frequently and thinning with more milk if necessary before proceeding.)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 15″ X 10″ X 2″ glass baking dish.

Cook the macaroni in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain the macaroni well.

Return the macaroni to the drained pot; stir in the sauce. Season to taste with salt.

Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumb topping. Dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Bake until the cheese is bubbling and the crumbs are brown, about 40-45 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

ZOOM
Park City, Utah

Where to buy the Park City Cooks cookbook:
La Niche
(435) 649-2372

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Filed under Recipes, Restaurant Journal, Travel Eats

Too much comfort…

Enough with the comfort food, already, don’t you think? Have you noticed that every single magazine related to food or lifestyle is peppering us with comfort food?

“You need comfort food in this economy” they say. Yet, if you keep your old magazines from years past, you’ll see that January through March, comfort food dishes dominate.

Why? Because it’s winter in most parts, and winter calls for pots of chili, thick stews and hearty casseroles. This year, it’s easy to add the economy as the reason we need comfort foods. It’s not enough that it’s chilly outside and we typically make these kinds of dishes in the winter anyway.

Don’t get me wrong… I love comfort food. Adore it, actually. But tying it to the tanking economy is going to ruin it for me. When we pull out of this (and we will) I don’t want to have a bad taste in my mouth about some outrageously delicious comfort food that reminds me of when the stock market was in a flat line, one gasp away from death.

I want to give specific kudos to Food & Wine Magazine, though. At least their covers (February and March 2009) seemed to be focused on healthy (and our nation is healthy, if a bit under the weather) comfort food.

The root vegetable gratin gracing their March cover adds an interesting, albeit sneaky, twist. Layers of sweet potato and butternut squash hide another layer of rutabaga (a step-child vegetable that’s good for you but never gets star treatment), all topped with a crunchy, olive oil-kissed bread crumb topping.

It looks worth the 30 minutes of prep time and 90 minutes of bake time. And I bet you could use leftovers, mashed, as you would pumpkin puree: in quick breads, pancakes, etc. Just guessing. That’s not to say that the homemade rolls on the Gourmet cover aren’t enticing (yes, Gourmet wants you to work for your comfort — no easy outs for Gourmet cooks). And the lamb and eggplant shepherd’s pie on bon appetit’s cover looks so scrumptious I can feel my hips widening just looking at the picture.

I guess a tanking economy is reason enough to hunker down at home and since it is chilly outside, a warm bowl of soup or a homey casserole seems to be just what the doctor ordered. Feed the soul at the same time as the tummy. But let’s do it for the reasons we’ve always done it… baby, it’s cold outside.

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