Home plate: Hasta be pasta

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Macaroni with Four Cheeses

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups half-and-half

¾ teaspoon salt, plus salt for pasta water

¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

¼ teaspoons hot sauce

8 ½ ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or other good quality Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)

1 pound elbow macaroni

½ teaspoon minced garlic

4 ounces grated Cheddar cheese

4 ounces grated Fontina cheese

4 ounces grated Gruyére cheese

¼ cup fresh bread crumbs

½ teaspoon Creole seasoning

Melt 4 tablespoons butter over low heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and gradually whisk in the half-and-half. Cook until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, season with the ¾ teaspoon salt, white pepper, hot sauce and 4 ounces (about a cup) Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Cover and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt to taste and, while stirring, add the macaroni. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for abut 5 minutes, or until the macaroni is al dente (slightly undercooked). Drain in a colander and return the macaroni to the pot. Add 2 tablespoons butter and the garlic and stir to combine. Add the reserved sauce and stir until well combined. Set aside.

Grease a 3-quart baking dish or casserole with the remaining tablespoon of butter and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano with the Cheddar, Fontina and Gruyére cheeses. Toss to combine. Place one-third of the macaroni in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with one-third of  the mixed cheeses. Top with another third of the macaroni and a third of the cheese mixture. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and cheese mixture. In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, remaining ½ ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano and Creole seasoning. Toss to combine. Sprinkle this over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the macaroni and cheese is bubbly and hot and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.


One-Pot Andouille Sausage Skillet Pasta

(This cheesy pasta dish comes together in less than 30 minutes in one skillet)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1 package andouille sausage, thinly sliced

2 cups chicken broth

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

½ cup milk

8 ounces elbow pasta

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (I use a bit more)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion and sausage and cook, stirring frequently until sausage is lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, milk and pasta; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 12-14 minutes. Remove from heat and top with cheese. Cover until cheese has melted, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

 Pasta with White Clam Sauce

10 ounces dried linguine or fettuccine

2 6.5 ounce cans chopped or minced clams

1 ¾ cups half-and-half, light cream or milk

1 medium chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried, crushed

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup snipped fresh parsley

¼ cup dry white wine

¼  cup finely shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; keep warm. Meanwhile, drain canned clams, reserving the juice from on of the cans (about 1/3 cup). Add enough of the half-and-half to the reserved clam juice to equal 2 cups liquid. Set clams and clam juice mixture aside. In a medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic in hot butter over medium heat until tender, but not brown. Stir in flour, dried oregano (if using) salt and pepper. Add clam juice mixture all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in clams, fresh oregano (if using), parsley and wine. Heat through. Serve over hot pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

 Baked Chicken with Garlic
and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

20 cloves garlic, about 2 heads

1 medium onion, sliced ¼ inch thick and separated into rings

½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)

¼ cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Coat a large, ovenproof skillet with olive oil and preheat over medium-high heat. Crush 2 of the garlic cloves and place them in a skillet. Place the chicken in the skillet, and arrange the remaining garlic cloves around the chicken. Cook the chicken for about four minutes on each side, or until the chicken and garlic cloves are nicely browned. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Remove the skillet from the heat. Lay the onions and tomatoes over the garlic cloves in the skillet. Arrange the chicken in a single layer over the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Pour the wine and broth over the chicken and sprinkle with the oregano and pepper. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced. Serve with brown rice or pasta.