Friends, I don’t know what has been going on with me. I have wonderful people in my life. I have a kitchen full of food. I have a ukulele that loves to be played. I have the worst, most adorably awful cat in the world who only behaves when he has had the chance to cuddle with me. I have a loving partner whose career ambitions just came into fruition (in case he didn’t need another public exclamation about how proud I am–CONGRATULATIONS, SWEET PEA!). I have goals and dreams and poems to be written, and songs to be sung, and there is feminism…so why on earth do I ever complain? Why, in the name of all things delicious and covered in cheese, do I let stupid things get the best of me?
Thankfully, all it took was a large chunk of pepper jack and my favorite, ear-shaped pasta to set me straight again. Perhaps there is a logical reason for it, but there is something about the transformation that occurs when making sauce from a roux that could make a complain-y gal like me believe once more in magic. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a roux is the combination of melted butter and flour, which can be browned to your preferred level for flavor; all the roux takes is a little whisking and some much-needed attention, and your sauce will suddenly thicken into the ethereal mixture of your dreams.
For those of you in need of a pick-me-up, fear not! This recipe is the comfort food remedy for even the worst of days. It turns out the orecchiette are the perfect match for mac and cheese. The pepper jack sauce pools within each little dome of pasta, bursting with the subtle aroma of garlic, the delicate complement of scallions, the light tang of the smallest addition of white cheddar. One bite, and I forgot whatever it was I had to complain about. See? Magic.
P.S. Follow me on Twitter, should you find yourself craving blog updates, quirky jokes, and ukulele covers. I am @queensmithereen, and I am new to it (so new, in fact, that I have one post, and am still convinced that the past tense of “tweet” is “twote”), and I would love it if you welcomed me.
Pepper Jack Orecchiette Mac and Cheese
1 16-oz package dried orecchiette pasta
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup vegetable stock
1 garlic clove, minced
2 scallions, light green parts only, sliced into rounds
3 1/2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup sharp white cheddar cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Bring salted water to a boil and cook orecchiette to al dente following package instructions. Be sure to stir frequently so the noodles do not stick together. While the noodles are cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour and stir until combined and light brown. Add whole milk and vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly until the sauce has thickened (about 3-5 minutes). Once the sauce has thickened, add garlic and scallions and stir for another minute. Turn off heat and stir in cheeses until completely combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Preheat broiler. Drain orecchiette and pour into a large bowl. Stir in cheese sauce, making sure the pasta is evenly coated. Pour the mac and cheese mixture into an 8x8x2 pan and broil for 3-4 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. Serve.