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Mediterranean Mac and Goat Cheese


This Mediterranean inspired version of classic mac and cheese is so rich, creamy, and packed with tangy flavour that you'll never go back to ordinary.  Kids love it - just don't mention the word goat.  We use extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, goat milk instead of cow milk, and goat and sheep milk cheese instead of cheddar. Lactose intolerant cheese lovers rejoice!   A final hit of ancho, crispy prosciutto and nutty sweet confit garlic add sophistication and layers of flavour.  Can be made to be vegetarian by omitting prosciutto and chicken stock.

  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) excellent quality extra virgin olive oil (we prefer Domenica Fiore)
  • 1/3 cup (76 gr / 80 ml) fine white flour (whole wheat ok, but sauce will be less creamy)
  • 1 lb (454 gr) finely shredded pecorino (made from sheep milk)
  • 1/2 lb (227 gr) finely shredded gouda (made from sheep milk) or 50/50 gouda and asiago
  • 2 cups (500ml) goat milk (or 4 cups goat milk if not using stock)
  • 2 cups (500ml) low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • pinch of ancho chili powder or cayenne pepper (increase amount for adults-only)
  • 8 cloves of confit garlic, each in its own teaspoon of poaching oil, or 3 tablespoons garlic oil
  • 8 slices of good quality, lean prosciutto - cut into small squares
  • sea salt to taste (go light as the pecorino will be salty
  • 1 lb (454 gr) dried macaroni noodles - preferably bronze cut*

This dish can be made ahead and frozen or refrigerated until needed. Thaw in the fridge and re-heat at 350F (175C), covered for 30 minutes, uncovered for 15.

*Bronze cut pasta is made the old-school way, extruded from aged bronze dies. It is recognizable by its sandpapery, whitish surface and ability to reflect candlelight.  Bronze cut pasta is more expensive than its smooth, shiny, teflon-extruded contemporary cousin, but it is highly prized for its distinctive tooth and ability to grab and hold onto sauce.  This grab and hold attribute is especially important when serving al dente pasta nearly naked, dressed in little more than extraordinary olive oil or pasta fresca.

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Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) then set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.  Salt the water well until it tastes like the sea.  

In a heavy skillet over medium low heat, cook the prosciutto in its own fat, just until it darkens.  Remove from heat and leave to cool in the skillet.

In a large, heavy-bottom or enamel pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, until it thins and freely coats the bottom of the pot.  Whisk the flour in gradually to make a roux, stirring so it doesn't clump or burn.  Continue stirring until the roux turns every so slightly golden and loses its floury taste.  It will puff and recede as its cooking. 

You may need to add a bit more olive oil if you find the roux is too thick.  Do not overcook or the mixture will turn brown or pick up dark bits from the bottom of the pot.

About now, your pasta water should be rolling, so add the pasta but keep a watchful eye.  You want it to cook one minute or so shy of al dente, so it drinks up the lovely, milky, cheesy sauce while it bubbles away in the oven.

Add the goat milk and stock a bit at a time to the roux, continually stirring to prevent lumps, then turn heat to low and continue cooking out the final floury bits. 

Return heat to medium and when the mixture starts to bubble, add the cheeses (reserving 1/2 cup pecorino), confit garlic or garlic oil, and ancho chili powder, stirring constantly until all cheese has melted.  The sauce should be somewhat thin. 

Turn heat to very low while you wait for the moment of pasta perfection, then drain the macaroni noodles well (make sure those tiny tubes are empty of water) and dump them while still hot, into the sauce. Stir well to marry noodles and sauce.

Mediterranean Mac and Goat Cheese cut 325x217Stir half of the prosciutto bits and all of the rendered fat into the noodle and cheese mixture, smooth the surface with a spoon and sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup cheese and the other half of the prosciutto bits evenly overtop. 

Dust with additional ancho chili powder for 'cheesy' colour if desired, then bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and slightly crispy at the edges.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes, so that when you scoop individual servings, they hold their shape somewhat - making for attractive presentation and beautiful contrast between the cheesy dark crust and the pearly white, translucent interior.  

A fresh, crispy green side salad,lightly dressed in dijon vinaigrette is the perfect foil for ultra-rich Mediterranean Mac and Cheese.  Choose a big bad red wine to pair.

Bonus:  Leftover MedMac can be hashfried like potatoes, in olive oil with eggs for breakfast, or rolled cold with shredded greens into wholewheat wraps for lunch.

Submitted by:

C@H Kitchen