Monday, September 14, 2009

Skillet Baked Macaroni & Cheese w/ Broccoli & Red Pepper


Macaroni and Cheese is my ultimate favorite food and has been as long as I can remember.  It's rich, warm, cheesy and satisfying.  This will be the first of many Mac & Cheese recipes to be posted on this blog.  I'm starting with the best, in my opinion, and also the more labor intensive. This is recipe that has evolved from a traditional, homemade baked Mac & Cheese recipe that my Aunt made one summer that blew my mind.  I was 13 and already a huge fan of the boxed varieties.  I got the recipe from my Aunt  so I could recreate it at home.  Over the years I experimented with extra ingredients  and cooking methods and this is what I've created today...


Skillet Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli and Red Peppers

Ingredients
1   8 oz block of Cheddar Cheese
1/2 lb  Macaroni (uncooked)
1   16 oz  tub of Cottage Cheese (low-fat or regular)
4 oz  thinly sliced Alta Badea Cheese (can sub Swiss or Emmentaler)
1 medium Egg
1 1/2 tbsp Butter
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 tbsp chopped Garlic
1/2 cup chopped Broccoli
1 medium Red Pepper, chopped
3/4 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Salt and Pepper 



Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F 
Chop Cheddar Cheese into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes.
Boil Macaroni in a large pot until al-dente.  
Melt butter in large cast iron skillet.
Sauté Onions, Garlic and Red Peppers in skillet, approximately 15 minutes, then take skillet off heat.  
Drain and rinse Macaroni with cold water.  
Mix Cottage Cheese, Cheddar Cheese and Egg in a large bowl.  Add Macaroni.  Add slightly cooled Onion/Garlic/Red Pepper mixture.  Mix well.
Pour mixture back into skillet, shake over with Salt & Pepper and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes and then remove from oven.  Remove foil and add thinly sliced Alta Badea evenly on top of Macaroni, then evenly distribute Panko Bread Crumbs over dish.  


Place back into the oven uncovered.  Cook for another 30 minutes, or until the top browns. 
This dish is probably best pre-planned for a group of pot-heads.  I recommend waiting to light the pipe until about 15-20 minutes before it comes out of the oven.  Don't worry, the aroma of the dish will prevent you from forgetting to pull it out in time.  

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