Friday, April 13, 2007

Gratin of Macaroni

I came across this recipe the other day -- don't ask me where -- from a January 2006 British publication called The Observer. The article was a "best of" list comprising winners in various categories whom were nominated by other food professionals. This was the winning recipe in the easy supper category. It calls for creme fraiche, but if that's not available, sour cream would work just fine. For a dish with so few ingredients, this was a total winner. Very easy to throw together, but I did make it ahead of time and threw it in the oven just before dinner. I'd wait next time and assemble it and bake it right away. Do not skip rubbing the garlic clove around the inside of the gratin dish; this adds a nice background subtle note. This was a side dish to leftover baked chicken and sliced campari tomatoes from Costco, but it would be fine alone or with a vegetable or salad on the side.

I've put U.S. measures inside parentheses.

Gratin of Macaroni
(adapted from The Observer of January 2006)

Serves 4

salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g large macaroni (7 oz.)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
200ml crème fraîche or double cream
60g fresh Gruyère cheese (2 oz.)
(I added about 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan)
10g butter (approx ½ oz.)

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5 (375 °). In a large casserole, bring two litres of water to the boil with 20g of salt. Add the pasta and cook for eight minutes. Drain by lifting it out of the water and immediately coat it in olive oil. Meanwhile, take an ovenproof dish broad enough to fit in two layers of the pasta; if it is too small, the pasta will be too deep and only a small portion of it will be gratinated. Rub the inside of the dish with the clove of garlic, cut in half. This will coat the dish with a wonderful sweet aroma.

In a bowl, mix the pasta with the cream and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and pour into the ovenproof dish. Dot the surface with the butter and put into the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. You should have a wonderful golden gratin. For a little more colour on the top, pop the gratin under the grill (broiler).

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