Saturday, December 26, 2009

Evilly Sinful Christmas Side: Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Unlike at Thanksgiving, my mom and I actually cook for Christmas.  This year, Rick went home to visit his family, and I headed up to North Carolina to spend time with mine.  Since moving to the Low Country, I don't get to see a lot of snow, and I was happy to see that a little bit stuck around from last week.  As soon as I saw the snow, I called Rick from the road to tell him.  My dad suggested that I bring Rick a snowball home in a cooler so that he could experience it, too.  
I had to share a picture of the Nativity Scene that my mom made
for one the plays that she worked on!

Christmas for me has always meant Christmas Eve with my dad and Christmas with my mom.  For Christmas Eve dinner last night, we had a standing rib roast, and I encrusted it like the one that I did for Rick and I!  My mom and I do a lunch for us, and since it is just us, we have a ton of leftovers!  We pretty much have the same menu every year....ham and a turkey breast, Nanny's potatoes, green bean casserole, and stuffing. She also always does sweet potatoes in honor of my grandfather.  Last week, my mom asked me if I wanted to add anything to the menu, but I couldn't think of anything.  She said that she wanted to do macaroni and cheese, and my immediate thought was of a recipe for Cru Cafe's 4 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese.  I had made this recipe one time before for our church potluck dinner after finding it in an issue of Low Country Living magazine.  I emailed it to my mom so that she could buy all of that evil cheese that goes in it!  I'm happy to report, though, that Cru Cafe has the recipe on its website!  Here it is!

There are a couple of things that make this recipe one that I save for special occasions.  First, it is rather labor intensive.  Be prepared to grade some cheese.  Also, (and someone may have a suggestion to make this process go quicker..if you do, please comment!!!) it takes forever for the heavy cream to reduce. What I do to help it along the way is to use a sauce pan with a larger radius so that there is more surface area to heat the cream.  I also turn the heat up to a medium high for a little while to get the cream to barely boil and then reduce the heat back to medium so that I don't scorch the cream.  I swear it 3 hours!!!   Despite these complaints of mine, it is a delicious dish!

To reheat any leftovers, do it slowly on the stove while adding milk.  Be sure to stir while slowly reheating it (think low setting).  For ours on Christmas, we used elbow-shaped pasta.  Because my mom has sulfur allergies, she got us organic brown rice pasta.

Cru Cafe's Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
8 cups of heavy cream, reduced to 4 cups
1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
1 cup pepper jack cheese, hand grated
1 cup cheddar cheese, hand grated
1 cup fontina cheese, hand grated
1 cup mozzarella cheese, hand grated
1/4 cup olive oil
For final cooking
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, hand grated
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, hand grated
1/2 cup fontina cheese, hand grated
1/2 mozzarella cheese, hand grated
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Reduce cream to approximately 4 cups by
simmering over medium heat in a medium sized sauce pan.  Bring several
cups of well-salted water up to a boil over high heat and cook the
pasta until al dente.  Cool down rapidly in cold water then drain
well.  Coat the pasta lightly in olive oil to prevent sticking.  Set

Grate all the cheese, keeping them in separate piles.  Once the cream
is reduced, whisk in the four 1 cup quantities of cheeses.  Heat over
low heat until the cheese is fully melted.  Set aside.

In a big mixing bowl, combine the remaining cheese, pasta, and cheese
sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well without breaking up
the pasta.  Pour into a casserole pan and bake until lightly brown on
top (about 20-25 minutes).

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