This dinner came together so quickly mainly because I already had the mac and cheese made from our previous days lunch. If you have the foresight or time to put together the cheese sauce ahead of time and keep in the fridge you’re 70% done. Add a meat and veg and call in the troops.
Start with making your cheese sauce since this is the most time consuming part and set aside in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming. Recipe below.
The veg I selected were carrots and turnips only because that’s what I happen to have in my fridge at the time. Use what you have, just don’t use potatoes because that spot is taken by the pasta!
The carrots and turnips trimmed, peeled and cut and tossed in olive oil and S&P then strewn out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and baked in a 400′ oven for about 25 minutes. Check them along the way for doneness. While the veggies cook I have the cast iron grill already on the top rack in the oven preheating.
While this is working you can:
Put on a pot of generously salted water and bring to a boil then toss in your pasta, I use Penne for my mac and cheese so I guess it should be called Pen and Cheese. But again your pasta choice is subjective. Cook pasta for 8 minutes or so to al dente ( if using penne ) and drain but reserve some of its liquid.
Return pasta to saucepan on a low heat and pour the cheese sauce into the pasta adding in some liquid if the mix is too tight. A chicken or veg stock will work here too, just keep the pasta and sauce nice, loose and creamy. Check for seasoning! Hold in a covered pot.
The veggies done set aside and turn on the broiler.
The Rib Eye is drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked on a cast iron grill under the ovens broiler 3 minutes a side- depends on the thickness of course- and covered with foil and rested 5-8 minutes before slicing.
Turn the oven off and you can put the veg back in the oven to keep warm.
Warm the pasta and cheese.
The mushrooms were sautéed off in a hot skillet at the last minute with a little olive oil and butter.
Cheese Sauce: (Or Béchamel Sauce with cheese)
65 grams butter
65 grams flour
1 onion, chopped
(whole clove- 3-4 Optional)
1 Bay Leaf
1 Litre milk
Aged cheddar, grated
In a saucepan melt the butter, add in flour and stir over med heat. The consistency should look like wet sand.
Add in the onion and continue to cook another minute.
Slowly whisk in half the milk then slowly add in the rest of the milk, whisking to break up any lumps of flour.
Add in Bay leaf and cloves if using.
Switch from a whisk to a rubber spatula and continue to stir making sure to sweep the bottom of the pot to keep it from sticking and burning. What you’re looking for is cooking until the flour is cooked out, grab a stool it can take about 20 minutes. Taste and you’ll know when that has happened.
Season with salt and white pepper.
Adjust consistency, adding more milk if too thick.
When correct consistency is reached pour the Béchamel through a fine mesh sieve into a clean saucepot.
Discard onion, bay and cloves. Or if you’re like me I pick out the whole clove and bay and put the onions back in for my Pen and Cheese. In a classic Béchamel sauce you wouldn’t do this though.
On medium heat add in cheddar and stir to melt.
Check seasoning and consistency again.
This sauce can be cooled and stored in the fridge for up to four days in a sealed container and has multiple uses like tossing with broccoli /cauliflower and baking, use in a scalloped potato or on top of eggs for breakfast.
To cool thick sauces safely and thoroughly pour into shallow dish or bowl, cover with plastic wrap so the plastic lays right on top of the sauce to keep a skin from forming, and place in the sink with some cold water coming part way up the dish. Or on a bowl of ice and stir every few minutes replacing the plastic wrap each time. The objective is to cool it quickly and completely before storing.