Tuesday, May 21, 2013

For The Love Of All Things Cheese

We asked Ron and Mona Wise to share their recipe for an American family staple at dinner time – “Mac n’ Cheese”. Mona’s blog – Wise Words, http://www.wisewords.ie which she writes from her home in Galway – is about her life as the wife of a chef and cooking for their gang of children. Last year, Wise Words, swept three categories in the Blog Awards as Best Food & Wine Blog, Best Photo Blog and Best Blog of a Journalist and then scooped Best Overall Blog. Last year she also published her first book, The Chef and I, which is a personal account of their lives with food and as parents mixed in with a great range of recipes.

Ron and Mona write a weekly column for The Sunday Times and this is one of their “cheesy” recipes that was published in April.

“We will not be snobby when it comes to our love of cheese around here. Irish goat or a block of Swiss gruyere or a wheel of irresistible Italian parmesan cheese; We love it all. A tantalising Talleggio, or a must eat with raw onion scoop of the French creamy rustique cheese, all bring comfort to the kitchen when there is nothing to eat in the fridge. A packet of Sheridans brown bread crackers and a small sip of Galway Hooker beer and we have supper sorted. Cheese, however, can be quite heavy and learning how to incorporate it into your diet and ensuing you do not end up with a belly full of indigestible cheese. The Swiss like to sip on a small drop of Kirschwasser - a clear and colourless brandy typically made from Morello cherries - aiding in the digestion of cheese when they eat fondue, but we find that sipping on one of our excellent Irish craft beers (like Galway Hooker or a glass of Howling Gale Ale from Eight Degrees) works wonders too.

When reaching for the recipe books this week, we thought it would be interesting to take a ‘non typical’ cheese dish and try to make it with as much Irish cheese as possible and see how we faired out. We are fortunate, living in Galway, that our cheese experts (Sheridans Cheesemongers) are only a stones throw away.
Dubliner cheese is created using a small amount of Italian parmesan rennet and comes close to fabulous for a quick fix when in need for a hard grating cheese.

This recipe is the family staple served in the US (sometimes more than once a week), good old fashioned macaroni and cheese. A fast and satisfying dish, mac ‘n cheese can be whipped up in a mad hurry. The pasta (best to use small elbow macaroni) cooks in a few minutes and lets face it, cheese melts fast. We like to keep ours on the spicy side and the addition of smoked rashers helps you really make a meal out of it.”

Smoked bacon mac n’ cheese


I know. Mac n’ cheese reeks ‘American food’ and not very healthy to boot, but there is something to be said for making this iconic American dish with Irish cheese and Irish rashers. A smoky hunk of salt cured Irish pork, dice and cooked until crisp, swimming in a rich creamy cheese sauce will win you over. Good goods come in small packages so portion this off to the freezer for a quick side dish when needed.

What you will need:
450 g rigatoni pasta (cooked)
225 g onion, chopped
100 g garlic, diced
335 g smoked bacon, diced
90 g butter
55 g flour
1 tsp cayenne pepper
480 ml milk
225 g grated cheese (Cheddar)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp butter
For the topping
60 g garlic, diced
120 g fresh breadcrumbs
50 g grated parmesan (for topping)

Mona served up her Mac N'Chese in our large rectangular ovenware dish in our Forget Me Not pattern.

How to prepare it

Sauté the onions, garlic and smoked ham in butter until the onions have softened. Add the cayenne and flour and sauté for five minutes. Pour in the milk and whisk until smooth. Add the cheese, remove from the heat as you stir in the cheese and then add the eggs. Once the mixture has a smooth consistency add in the pasta. Top with fresh breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake at 200ºC for 20 minutes or until golden.

To make fresh breadcrumbs grate two or three slices of stale bread and add the raw garlic to it and fresh herbs such as parsley or chives if desired.


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