It's that time of year again! Chris from The Mind of Schmid and I are teaming up to honor dishes straight out of cherished Christmas cinematic classics. Last year for our Cinematic Christmas Feast I chose to make Who Hash (I had to...the Grinch took our last can!) from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Chris made Ain't Yo Momma's Meatloaf from A Christmas Story. (Much tastier than Mom's "Meatloaf, meatloaf. Double beet loaf.)
This year we both chose to make dishes from Home Alone! Chris is tackling the coveted Cheese Pizza and I am presenting a lovely, gourmet Macaroni & Cheese.
Home Alone is a holiday favorite of mine, and one that I did not actually see until about a decade after it came out. When it was released in 1990 I guess I assumed I was not the target audience. It's also quite likely there was rampant, hyper-annoying promotion of the young, impish Macauley Culkin, both factors contributing to my avoiding the movie.
And really, would I be interested in a John Hughes movie full of physical comedy, crude humor and ridiculously exaggerated stereotypes?
Oh yeah, of course I would! And when I did finally see it, indeed I loved it.
Surely everyone is familiar with the Home Alone plot, but here is a super-quick movie synopsis just in case:
A little boy's terrible family leaves him at Home Alone while they fly to Paris. He enjoys some well-deserved peace and tranquility, while competently running his household and successfully defending his domicile.
Unfortunately for him, his family eventually comes home.
For the record, I think Kevin was completely right to wish that his family would disappear.
They were just an awful pack of people. If I had an uncle that called me a little jerk, a sister that called me "les incompetent" and a mom that banished me to the scary attic... well, I would wish those people into the cornfield too.
While alone, smoothly maintaining household routines, throwing a rocking party attended by Michael Jordan, and keeping himself well-groomed, Kevin also enjoyed some classic comfort food! Chris will give you the low-down on Kevin's perfect Cheese Pizza.
I'm here to share about Macaroni & Cheese. While grocery shopping on his own, Kevin decides to give a packaged microwave macaroni & cheese "a whirl." I love macaroni & cheese too, and I decided to give my classic macaroni & cheese a gourmet twist.
By gourmet I mean that I traded elbows for pasta shells.
I also traded out my standard Cheddar cheese for a combination of three delectable varieties I found out a local cheese shop.
I chose the Pyrenees Poivre Vert because I was intrigued by the little studs of green peppercorns embedded in the cheese. If this variety isn't available a regular Pyrenees would probably be just fine, as the rich creaminess it adds is its best asset.
The quantities of cheese I used below may seem a little random, as I played with the quantities I had on hand. And the folks here who ate the entire pan of Macaroni & Cheese in less than thirty minutes approved.
The heat from the Chili Cheddar was subtle at first but then built little by little as we gobbled it down. This was wonderful for us, but if you're sensitive to spicy heat you could cut the amount of this cheese back some.
It is a creamy, savory comfort food you can enjoy with your family, or if you've already wished for them to disappear then enjoy it all alone! The recipe is below.
Be sure to head over to The Mind of Schmid to check out his contribution to this Cinematic Christmas Feast featuring Home Alone! Click here: The Mind of Schmid, A Cinematic Feast: Cheese Pizza.
Merry Christmas! And as Kevin would say, "Keep the change, ya filthy animal."
Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese
- 16-ounce box medium pasta shells
- 3 teaspoons salt, divided
- 10 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2-1/4 cups whole milk
- 4 ounces Manchego cheese, grated
- 7 ounces Pyrenees Poivre Vert, broken or sliced into small pieces
- 6 ounces Grafton Village Smoked Chili Cheddar, grated
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups coarse bread crumbs
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in 2 teaspoons of salt and the pasta shells. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain, return to pot and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large sauce pan, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Stir in the flour, the remaining teaspoon of salt and the black pepper. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat stirring constantly. Add in the milk, and stir to combine. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring continually. Reduce the heat and while stirring, simmer the sauce for 2 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the Manchego, Pyrenees Poivre Vert and Smoked Chili Cheddar until melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in salt to taste.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and stir to coat the pasta evenly. Pour the mixture into a 9″ x 13″ pan.
- Place the bread crumbs into a medium bowl. Microwave the remaining 1/4 cup of butter in a microwave-safe dish in 30-second intervals until melted. Add the melted butter to the bread crumbs and stir until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top of the pasta. Bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the bread crumbs are golden brown.Makes 6-8 generous servings.