Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese - made September 17, 2012 from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary blog

I was on a cooking spree earlier this week and this is the third of three recipes I made and probably the one where I most narrowly avoided giving myself food poisoning.  I did the grocery shopping thing at Trader Joe's because this needed three cheeses and I can assure you I had none of them in my house.  Plus I knew TJ's would have a wide selection of cheeses and I wouldn't have to do any questionable substitutions.  Ignore the fact that I stood in front of the cheese section for some time, looking baffled at so many different types of cheese.  I eventually read through all the labels and found the three I was looking for.  Gnocchi was easy enough to find in the pasta aisle.  I was still under the mistaken assumption at  the time that the garlic on my kitchen counter was viable so I did end up using my geriatric garlic powder on this when the time came.

Now I don't like mustard but I did have a small jar of Dijon mustard in my pantry from the last time I needed it for a recipe (which was probably another version of mac and cheese) so I thought I was good there.  I started out innocently enough - boil the gnocchi, melt the butter in a separate pan, stir in the garlic (powder), whisk in the flour and the milk.  I dropped in the teaspoon of Dijon mustard from the jar that was mostly full.  Then I wondered, since I had already opened it some time ago, whether it was one of those things that should've been refrigerated after being opened.  I scrutinized the faint writing on the glass jar and yep, sure enough, it said to refrigerate after opening.  I did waffle on whether I should forge ahead anyway but then I also noticed the expiration date on the mustard.  Which was about a month ago.  Hmmm.  Did I still go for it since it was already in my mixture?  And really, what's the worst that could happen?  A queasy stomach?  As someone once said, I'm a good stomach flu away from a size 2 so there could be upside, right?  Sigh. Yes, I actually did think about taking my chances with food poisoning because I'm a lousy lazy cook.

But in the end, sanity prevailed.  I threw out what I had mixed so far and started over again, this time leaving out the sketchy mustard.  The sauce was very easy to mix up and the cheeses melted obligingly for a creamy texture.  Because I needed some protein, I chopped up chunks of ham to throw in with the gnocchi and mixed both up with the sauce.  This doesn't make a ton of sauce so if you like/love cheesy sauces, you might want to double the recipe for a pound of gnocchi.  I was pleased with how this turned out but then again, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing.  The ham made a sweet complement to the gnocchi mac and cheese so I'm glad I added it.  Only warning though is gnocchi sits pretty heavily in the stomach and the cheese sauce puts the calorie count into the ozone.  I would recommend portion control, which isn't hard since gnocchi is so filling.  The gnocchi package said it was 3 servings but I was easily able to get 8 portions out of this recipe.

1 pound purchased or homemade gnocchi (I used whole wheat gnocchi from Trader Joe's)
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/3 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
Basil leaves for garnish, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and place gnocchi in a single-layer in a 1-1/2 quart shallow baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in flour until it thickens and bubbles, then whisk in milk and Dijon. Continue to whisk mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Combine Gruyere and fontina, then add by the handful to milk mixture, stirring until melted before adding the next handful. Once all cheese is melted, season sauce with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour sauce over gnocchi and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano over top. Bake gnocchi until they puff and the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Let gnocchi rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with basil if desired.

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