WINE WITH…Mac and Cheese Provençale
There is no doubt that good old American mac and cheese is one of the world’s great comfort foods. For an occasional change of pace we like to bring in the flavors of Provence by topping the dish with Provence’s emblematic trio: tomatoes, garlic and a pungent dose of herbs.
We also like the fact that this particular recipe is a variation on the standard mac and cheese preparation in that instead of pre-boiling the
macaroni, the uncooked pasta bakes right in the milk and cheese mixture until it is soft and succulent.
Mac and Cheese Provençale
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups whole milk (not skim or low fat)
1 cup whole milk cottage cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
about 2 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 large or 2-3 smaller tomatoes, cut in ¼ inch slices
2-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Grease a 6-cup baking dish with half the butter, reserving the rest.
Place the milk, cottage cheese, mustard, cayenne, ½ teaspoon of salt and some pepper in a blender and process until thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and stir in 2 cups of the grated cheddar, reserving the remaining ½ cup. Cover the baking dish tightly (use foil if it has no lid) and bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover the pan and stir the macaroni. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on top of the pasta. Mix together the garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and olive oil, and spread each tomato slice with some of the mixture. Dot the pasta and tomatoes with the remaining butter and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Return the dish to the oven, uncovered, and bake another 20-30 minutes or until it has begun to brown around the edges.
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This turns out to be a very adaptable dish when it comes to wine pairing. The creamy, cheesy sauce likes a rich white, while the garlicy tomatoes prefer a robust red. With the ingredients put together, both types of wine work just fine. Don’t go for too delicate a white or too tannic a red. Pretty much everything else should work just fine.
Because we think of mac and cheese as a weeknight dish, we limited the wines we tried to those with price tags under $25. We still found plenty to like.
Questions or comments? Contact us at Talkofthevine@gmail.com