Yes, I know mac and cheese was trendy a few years ago, but it is a fabulous marathon-recovery-food. This version, from the New York Times a while back, is like a solid brick of really good cheddar with noodles embedded in it. It’s probably as close as I can get to a heart-attack-on-a-plate, so we only make it about once a year. I recommend using full-fat versions of everything, because if you are going to eat mac and cheese, eat real mac and cheese. This is rich, so it’s worth enjoying a fully rich, small piece.
One of the many great things about it is that you don’t have to cook the noodles first, so it’s really easy. I like to serve it with a salad (we had a spicy spring mix with homemade roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, pepperoncinis, and red onion with a simple lemon-olive-oil dressing) and a good glass of red wine, though because Bryce and I had a lot of calories to make up for, we made some simple tomato soup as well (I’ll post that next).
2 tb butter
1 cp cottage cheese (not lowfat)
2 cps milk (not skim)
1 tsp dry ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (we used 6-year cheddar from the farmer’s market!)
1/2 lb elbow pasta, or any other small shape that holds onto sauces, UNcooked
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees and position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Use 1 tb butter to butter a 9-in (8-in works too) round or square baking pan.
2. In a blender, puree cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt, and pepper together. Reserve 1/3 cup grated cheese for the topping in the 4th step. In a large bowl, combine remaining cheese, milk mixture, and uncooked pasta.
3. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.
4. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon butter.
5. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving. This cooling process is especially important, as it allows it to get to that “brick of cheese with noodles embedded in it” state.