Hanker for a hunk of cheese

I have several cardinal rules that I stick to: never pass up a good parking space, always go for the lemon flavored choice, always watch Best in Show if you catch it on TV, and do whatever food related project Rachel ropes you into. Rachel told the Cabot Cheese people to send me two bricks of cheese and expect a write up.

I made up 2 recipes. I was always the teacher's pet.

But before I get to that, I wanted to say that I tried the cheese straight up. And it was good. I love cheese, but I'm not a connoisseur by any means, so all I can say is I ate it 'till my stomach hurt. That's got to count for something in the taster's notebook. But despite my best efforts, I still had two big hunks of cheese left that could easily be wielded to thwart a home invasion. Luckily, d wife was having some friends over that night. It would be like my own recipe focus group.

So I got to work and here's what I came up with.

On the menu tonight, we have Fancy-Ass Mac & Cheese with Cheddafied Brazilian Cheese Bread. Want to make it yourself? Just follow my recipes:

Fancy-Ass Mac & Cheese
Serves: a messload of people
Nutrition Information: There's fatty pork, butter and heavy cream in this. Live a little.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz (6 cups), Conchiglie, cooked and drained
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 6 tablespoons chopped chives, divided into 4 oz and 2 oz   
  • 1/4 lb Crimini Mushrooms (and some butter to sautee in)
  • 1/2 lb Pancetta
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup Panko Style bread crumbs
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided into 4 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon
  • 5 cups shredded Cabot 3-Year Cheddar cheese, divided into 4 cups and 1 cup

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 3-quart casserole dish.

2. Cook the pasta according to instructions. I chose Conchiglie because it looked like it would really hold the sauce well. Notice how one end is pinched? That acts like a lobster trap. The sauce goes in, and is too dumb to turn around and escape.

3. Slice up the mushrooms and sautee them with the shallots and butter. I don't remember the timing. Just do it until it looks good. I'll trust that you know how to do that.

4. Cook the pancetta. Do it just like you would fry up bacon.

Pancetta is essentially bacon, but it isn't smoked after curing, like bacon is. If that's too hard to remember, just look at it as "bacon when I want to impress people with my gourmet-ness." Because that's pretty much what it is. After cooking, chop it. At this point, it looks and tastes like bacon, but less smoky, which is good if you want the flavor of the cheese to be your focal point. See? There is a method to my madness.

5. Take that one tablespoon of butter you set aside and melt it. Pour the panko breadcrumbs and the 2 oz chives you set aside into the butter and use your hands to mix it all up. Lick fingers. Mmm... buttered crunchies.

6. Combine cornstarch, salt, dry mustard and pepper in medium saucepan. Stir in heavy cream, water, and butter. Cook over medium-heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 4 cups cheese until melted. Add the Pancetta and the 4 oz chives you set aside. Add cooked pasta; mix well.

7. Pour into your casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese. Then top with the breadcrumb mixture.

8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is in melted and light brown.

9. Test on a child.

Have you ever gone to a Brazilian Barbecue joint? If you have, then you're familiar with Brazilian Cheese Bread, those chewy cheesy morsels that go so fast that you have to fill out an application and put down a deposit to reserve one. Fret no more. Plus, they're gluten-free, if you're into that sort of thing.

Cheddafied Brazilian Cheese Bread
Makes 40 puffs, which is one serving, if you are my wife or son.


Ingredients:

  • 4 cups tapioca flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Cabot cheddar
  • 4 eggs
  • A mini-muffin tin

Before you begin, I just wanted to say that it might be really hard for you to find tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch). Aside from this Brazilian dish and some Asian desserts, I don't know of anything that calls for tapioca flour. And no, you can't really substitute anything for it because the chewy, springy nature of tapioca flour is what makes this bread so irresistible. I went to Whole Foods and couldn't even find it. And they had whack ass flours of every variety there. I almost wasn't going to post this one because if the only place you can buy the ingredient is at an Asian market, then 99% of you won't be able to make it.

Harder to find than Kanye's humility

However, my friend Schadenfreudette (whom I gave this recipe to months ago), told me she was able to find it. And she lives in Texas. So I was all yeehah, let's do this!

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

2. Bring the milk, salt, and butter to a boil in a sauce pan while constantly stirring mixture

3. Once boiling remove the mixture of milk, salt and butter from heat


4. Slowly add tapioca flour, stirring constantly until thoroughly mixed

5. Add the cheese and eggs to mixture

6. Mix until smooth

7. Fill each mini muffin cup all the way up


8. Bake until golden brown, usually about 20 minutes

9. Dump muffins, fill the tins up again and do the last step. Or, stop being a cheap bastard like me and get 2 mini muffin tins. It's worth it.

I hate you for doing this, dad! I'm going to run off with a Brazilian Cheesebread baker who drives a lowered Civic and we'll see who has the last laugh!