Sunday, March 6, 2011

Muenster Mac and Cheese

Have I mentioned that I love cheese? Like really love cheese? Pepperjack is by far my favorite, closely followed by cream cheese. But then there is American cheese, Mozzarella, Colby, Monterrey, Swiss, Muenster, Parmesan, Provolone, Cheddar and the list goes on and on. I know most of those cheeses are the common ones, but hey, when you live in the middle of no where, you can't find fancy cheese like Gruyere, Pecorino, or Emmental. There are currently two cheese that I dislike. Ricotta because the texture bugs me and Brie because of the lovely comment Tom made about it.

Do you like brie? If so, you may want to skip ahead to the recipe. At my bridal shower at Tom's mom's house, she had a platter of different cheeses. We're all gathered around this platter trying them out and Tom tries the brie. He almost instantly spits it out and says "it tastes like an aquarium would smell."

Since I already have a piece of brie on a cracker, I tell myself that my palate is much more refined than Tom's and he's crazy to make the association of cheese and an aquarium. I take a bite and...
my brain instantly transports me to the touching tank at the aquarium we visited in North Carolina two years before. I don't want to spit it out but it took everything in me to finish chewing and swallow the cheese and cracker while images of starfish, stingrays, fishies and algae swim through my mind.

I'll never get rid of that mental image so now I am forced to live a brie-less life.

Muenster Mac and Cheese
Slightly adapted from: Annie's Eats
Servings: 4-6 
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups pasta shells
    • 8 oz. Muenster cheese*
    • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
    • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp. oregano
    • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions until just a minute or so before al dente. Butter or spray a 9x13 baking dish.
2. Preheat the oven to 400.
3. If you couldn't find shredded Muenster, you can buy the slices and use a box grater to shred them. If you currently don't possess a box grater (I didn't until yesterday), dice the cheese into small pieces.
4. Place 4 tbs. of the unsalted butter in a large mixing bowl. 
5. In a medium sized saucepan over low heat, warm the heavy cream. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese begins to melt. Add the garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
6. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the butter. Toss well to coat. Add the cheese mixture and stir well.
7. Microwave the remaining 1 tbs. of butter until melted. Add the breadcrumbs to the butter and stir.
8. Transfer the pasta and cheese into the baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the pasta.
9. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top has turned a golden brown color.


Yum! Muenster is such a light cheese that I was curious to see if the flavor really came through. I definitely think it did. Tom on the other hand, can't seem to have mac and cheese unless he mixes Velveeta into it, so I have no idea what his tasted like.

4 comments:

  1. This page had over 117 thousand views and not one viewer commented? Well, I'm going to try this recipe now. The only ingredient I'm lacking is heavy cream, but I'm sure not having it will not ruin the recipe.

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    Replies
    1. I'd LOVE over 117,000 views on one post, but sadly its for the entire blog. :) Not having heavy cream shouldn't make too much of a difference. I've found in most cases, light cream, half and half or even milk can be substituted without any real change to the recipe. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!

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  2. Hi Nichole! I have to say that the recipe came out very nice! I really enjoyed it, the whole family did. You can't go wrong with muenster cheese..yummy! I added a little paprika to it for some color and it did work out just fine with the milk. Thanks for the great recipe :)

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  3. This was fantastic! It tasted like gourmet restaurant mac and chz. It is creamy and cheesy with a bit of light crunch on the top. It has subtle but rich flavors. I only had 4oz of muenster chz left over after another recipe I used it in, so I substituted the other half with sharp white cheddar. I sprinkled a little extra sharp white chz on top with the bread crumbs and wowza, it was delicious! Excellent as a side also. I used the leftovers as a side for pot roast the next night. So yummy!

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