F#*% You Macaroni and Cheese
pot o’ boiling (and salted!) water
heavy-bottomed sauce pan (2 quart is ideal)
wire strainer (if you wish)
- 1-3 lobster tails (depending on size, desired level of gluttony)
- 3-4 Cups whole milk (or something heavier if you wanna go nuts, just cut back on the roux)
- 1 1/2 – 2 Cups shredded gruyere cheese (or swap out 1/2 cup of gruyere for 1/2 cup shredded smoked gouda)
- 3 tbsp softened butter, creamed with 3 tbsp all-purpose unbleached flour (for roux)
- box o’ pasta (tubes or shells)
- kosher salt (at LEAST)
- olive/canola oil
- 1 tsp minced fresh garlic (for zing)
- pinch of white pepper (go easy)
- pinch of herbs du provence (ground in a mortar and pestle if you’d like it hidden)
- pinch of cracked red pepper (also ground for stealth)
- dash of truffle oil (closer. big finale)
- panko (for crunch)
- Start your pasta water, generously salted, with a blob of olive/canola oil on top. Cook pasta according to instructions.
- Cook the lobster tails to your liking (grill, steam, etc, although grilling them adds a really nice flavor) and remove the meat from the shell by snipping the tail up the middle underside with scissors, gently prying it apart. Try to break as little of the shell as possible to minimize the potential need to strain the sauce later. Set meat aside.
- Bring cream and lobster shell(s) to a simmer. The longer you can afford to leave the shell(s) in the cream before adding the butter/flour, the better. 20-30mins is ideal.
- Mash/beat/whip the butter and flour together with a silicon spatula or metal spoon into an even consistency. Remove shells and whisk the blob into the simmering milk (simply scoop the roux into the whisk and drop the whisk in the saucepan). Add any garlic, pepper, and/or herbs.
- Lightly simmer this mixture on low heat and whisk occasionally to keep the milk from scorching on the bottom of your pan. Simmer about fifteen minutes (this is a good time to check your pasta of choice. I rock the big shells.) and test by dipping a spoon into the mixture and pulling it out. If it’s got a nice, even, velvety coating to it, and it doesn’t taste like flour (gritty, dry, starchy), you’re ready to add your cheese, a small handful at a time, gently whisking, until all cheese is incorporated.
- Lower heat and cook a bit longer. Continue tasting for consistency. Aside from making sure the roux (butter+ flour) cooks properly and the bechamel (roux + milk/cream) gets enough time to develop a nice silky texture, your mornay sauce (bechamel sauce + cheese) should be splendid and fuss-free.
- Salt to taste, of course. kosher, please.
- Now, toss your cooked shells and cheese sauce and coat to your liking (reserved sauce will keep in the fridge for four days or so and is great for any number of cheese sauce needs you might dream up), and top with a drizzle of truffle oil at presentation (for maximum FU points) or pile into a ramekin, sprinkle with panko bread crumbs, and pop under the broiler for a FEW seconds. Keep an eye on it. If you torch it now, you’re gonna be pissed and lose serious points. So get it to a golden crust, THEN hit it with the truffle oil. If you want. That’s what I do. And that’s what makes it F#*% You Macaroni & Cheese if you get it right. It’s powerful stuff.
Smoked Tomatoes and Portabellas
a smoker (any kind of hot smoker, electric or gas or charcoal)
*you could get by with using a grill, but you have to pay a lot more attention.
a digital probe thermometer is very nice for things of this nature.
- a few pounds of roma tomatoes
- one or two pounds of mushrooms
- canola oil
- kosher salt
- According to your smoker’s instructions (I use charcoal) get it to a little below optimum temperature (for meats). While that’s heating up, soak the woodchips of your choice (I use pecan) in water.
- In the kitchen, slice the romas in half lengthwise and toss with a splash of oil and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. The portabellas, lightly brush for debris, remove stems (if you like) and give the same
- Once your smoker is at a nice temp (around 200 to
230) gently place your tomatoes (cut-side up) and mushrooms (gills up) on the racks in the smoker, toss your soaked woodchips (I wrap mine in foil to keep the mess down and the excess water off the coals) on the heat source and walk away. You’ll need to check on them periodically just to make sure the coals are maintaining a nice even temperature, so add coals if necessary.
The whole process takes about 4-6 hours for the mushrooms and 8-12 hours to get the tomatoes to “sundried” consistency. But you can also pull both the tomatoes and mushroomsoff after a couple hours and finish them in the oven on a rack at 200 degrees for a couple hours too… or, not. Whatever works for you.
But what can now be done with these two ingredients is vast and at times, alarming. The tomatoes can be used for anything you’d normally use tomatoes for: salsas, soups, salads, cornbread (hell yeah), or even compound butter (blue cheese, garlic, green onion, smoked tomato slivers) to blob onto a steak fresh off the grill. The mushrooms are great in anything requiring duxelle, in tapenades (incredible), but where they especially blow minds is in a basic bechamel (see mac and cheese recipe, replace cream with milk) and over biscuits. It’s sausage gravy and biscuits for vegetarians and every single one I’ve made this for nearly claws their own face off. In fact, the smoked tomatoes have been spit out by several vegetarians thinking it was meat. So, you could use those in the mac and cheese as well.
go nuts. enjoy. have fun. feed those you love.
- finely-chopped smoked portabellas
- minced cilantro
- minced garlic
- minced anchovy
- minced jalapeno
- crushed toasted pecans
- lemon juice/zest
- olive oil
- pinch of cumin
- salt to taste
Spread this on toasted baguette crisps. Watch people freak out.
About this Artist
What Made Milwaukee Famous (Jeremy Bruch)
Austin-based WMMF consists of Michael Kingcaid, Drew Patrizi, Jason Davis, John Houston Farmer, and Jeremy Bruch, featured in this interview. Their passionate, power pop has earned them well-deserved national buzz and placement on numerous “Bands to watch” lists. Watch for their highly-anticipated second CD release in Spring of ’08. In the meantime, I’ll be watching my mailbox for some of those smoked roma tomatoes that Jeremy promised me! That boy can COOK!
About the interview
Jeremy and I are chatting in a stairwell at the Austin Convention Center. The awesome live footage was shot and provided by Shot By A Fan (shotbyafan.com)
James Holland and Eric Holland
All content copyright © Jennifer Robbins and Jenville Productions