As some of you know, my sister and I celebrate Cheese Thursday's. Each week, we switch houses and one of us cooks dinner. The dish should include as much dairy as possible. Gluttonous, I know, but it is so fun and oh so good. Needless to say, I am always on the lookout for fun cheesy recipes. As I was browsing on my usually list of foodie sites this morning, I came across this playful recipe that would be great for a football party, a kiddie snack, a casual get together or a fun start to a weeknight dinner.
If you want to dress the recipe up play around with the cheeses. Gruyere, Gouda, Brie, Gorgonzola, Stilton and Fontina are all great melting cheeses that satisfy more sophisticated palates. They range from creamy to stinky so make sure you choose cheeses that compliment each other. In addition, pancetta, sauteed leeks, mushrooms, truffle oil and more can contribute some nice layers and textures. To dress down, embrace processed cheeses. Velveeta, Kraft Singles and Jack will bring out the kid in everyone. Lastly, feel free to add kick. Diced pimentos, jalapenos, red chile flakes, serrano peppers or green chilies can make your small bite range from mild to piping hot.
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
- 4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.
- Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.
- In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the macaroni.
- Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.
- Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.