Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Lil' Twist: Bacon N' Pea Mac N' Cheese

A couple of weeks ago while perusing the internet for new cookbook releases, I found a link for Poor Girl Gourmet, Amy McCoy's first cookbook. Of course the title drew me into its web of mystery and allure. Who could resist checking out a book for foodies on a budget? After reading the reviews, I discovered that Ms. McCoy started this venture in a blog duly named the same title - Poor Girl Gourmet. Being the lil' research girl that I am, I just had to check it out and see what her recipes entailed. I spent a significant amount of free time bookmarking several recipes, but this one is the one I made last night for dinner. The recipe is an adaptation of a Barefoot Contessa recipe and I took it a few steps further and adapted it a lil' more. My local butcher/fishmonger store, McCalls Meat & Fish Co, sells the best smoked bacon, so I substituted the pancetta for the bacon. Since the bacon included a decent amount of fat, I sauteed the peas and shallots in the bacon fat (so I skipped out on the olive oil). I also opted not to coat the panko bread crumbs in melted butter prior to topping the mac n cheese. At this point, it was a lazy issue, I didn't want to clean another stinkin' pan last night.

The bechamel sauce was studded with Gruyere, an underrated cheese in my estimation. This mac n cheese recipe has that "star quality" and could easily be adapted to one's personal preferences. As I was putting together all of the elements last night, I started to dream of other additions and combinations - caramelized onions, sausage, roasted asparagus or roasted broccoli, the list does go on and on and on. Nonetheless, I was very pleased with how the mac n cheese turned out and I'm looking forward to give some of Amy's other recipes a whirl.

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