Dear SOS: I recently had a girls' night out at the Chateau Marmont (the lower bar area). We decided to splurge and order the mac 'n' cheese. This was the best mac 'n' cheese I have ever tasted. Could you please help me replicate this recipe? It's been a month now, and it is all I can think about.
Dear Kelly: Mac 'n' cheese is a popular request here at Culinary SOS, and I've found you can never have too many recipes for this favorite comfort food. This version, from Carolynn Spence, is perfect if you're into the rich and creamy variety, the Tallegio cheese lending a creamy tang and the flavors rounded out with subtle hints of spice from coriander, mustard and nutmeg.
Tallegio mac 'n' cheese
1½ hours. Serves 12
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 small onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
6 cups milk
4 ounces American cheese, cut into small cubes or grated
8 ounces Tallegio cheese, cut into small cubes, divided
1 1/2 pounds pasta, cooked, preferably torchio shapes (orecchiette, elbows or another fun shape will also work)
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook to soften, 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the flour to form the roux. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the roux goes from a light white color to a blond golden color, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns, coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds and the nutmeg, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to distribute the flavors.
4. Whisk in the milk a little at a time. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes to cook out the flour flavor, stirring occasionally to make sure the flour doesn't sink to the bottom of the pan and burn.
5. Remove the pan from heat and strain into a new pot, discarding the spices. Add the American and half of the Tallegio cheeses, stirring until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Taste the sauce, adding 1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste.
6. Add the pasta and the remaining Tallegio cheese, stirring to coat the pasta completely. The mixture at this point will seem a bit wet but will thicken as it bakes.
7. Pour the mixture into a 13-by-9-inch or similar large baking dish and bake until the mixture is thickened and bubbly, about 20 minutes. The mac 'n' cheese should have a nice crust on top. If not, place it under the broiler to darken a little.
8. Remove from heat and cool slightly before serving.
Protein 18 grams
Carbohydrates 54 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Fat 21 grams
Saturated fat 12 grams
Cholesterol 61 mg
Sugar 8 grams
Sodium 436 mg
NOTE: Adapted from executive chef Carolynn Spence of Chateau and Bar Marmont.