Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Please don't beat me up Anthony Bourdain!

Last night, I dove into a recipe that I've been itching to try for weeks! I saw it in Bon Appetit magazine. I just subscribed yesterday and I'm pretty excited! I even get a free cookbook! I'm sure I can squeeze it in somewhere! The article was dedicated to revamping classic American fare. The classic was macaroni and cheese. The twist was adding Swiss chard to the mix. I saw this rainbow chard at the market last weekend and figured it'd be perfect.

I will say right now that chard is not my favorite tasting leafy green. However, I love to look at the rainbow variety. It's so gorgeous and I could probably spend hours photographing it. I should also say that I rarely make macaroni and cheese. The last time I tried, I used a recipe from the book Mom's Secret Recipe File. The book is full of recipes from the mothers of top chefs. The mac and cheese recipe I used was from Anthony Bourdain's mom. He states that her recipe is the best in the world and he will meet anyone who says otherwise outside. Considering how many recipes for mac and cheese there are, I considered this to be a pretty bold statement and it was the first one that I tried out of the book. The recipe seemed so simple. I am partial to my Oma's mac and cheese but she uses a lot of processed ingredients (Velveeta) so I steer clear of making it myself. The only other time I tried to use real cheese, I ended up with a clumpy mess! Mama Bourdain's recipe didn't require making an actual cheese sauce so I figured this would be perfect! Despite the fact that Anthony could probably knock me from here to next week, I have to say that I wasn't impressed with how it turned out. I am willing, however, to consider the fact that I could have somehow screwed it up and will not hold it against him or his mother. My mom always made it from a box.

This recipe really made me feel like a winner! For the first time in my life, I managed to make a glorious cheese sauce from scratch without using processed cheese! I still smile when I recall the velvety texture that surrounded my wooden spoon yesterday. To add to the pleasure, I can also remember how fast my family gobbled this up!

Macaroni and Cheese with Swiss Chard. (adapted from Bon Appetit magazine)


  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3 cups reduced-fat (2%) milk
  • 4 cups of shredded cheese. (I used 2 combo bags of mozz, prov, asiago and a few others.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard. I also added some fresh kale.
  • 12 oz elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs


  • Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, then flour; stir constantly 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture begins to boil, about 5 minutes.

    I used an immersion blender to "hide" the large chunks of onion. My kid will eat leafy greens but she will totally stick her nose up at onions.
    Add 3 cups grated cheese. Stir until cheeses melt, about 2 minutes. Stir in cayenne and nutmeg. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

    (LOOK at this gorgeous cheese sauce!!!!!)
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish.
    The recipe says to boil the greens but I just cooked it in a little oil.
  • Return water in pot to boil. Add macaroni; cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Stir macaroni into warm cheese sauce. Place half of macaroni in dish; smooth top. Top with 1 cup cheese, then chard.

    Top with remaining macaroni mixture; spread evenly.
  • Melt 3 tablespoons butter. Place breadcrumbs in medium bowl. Drizzle butter over; toss. Add 1/2 cup cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over mac and cheese.
  • Bake mac and cheese until breadcrumbs are golden and edges are bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

This was made in a vintage pan from a thrift store. It says lasagna on the bottom.

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