Today we've got a dish on the Gilmore feast menu in honor of the best character, in my opinion, ever to meet the Gilmore Girls, one Paris Gellar. She's bossy, driven, smart, and hilarious, and she always knows just the right thing to say when you need to hear it most:
She also has a weakness for mac and cheese.
Much like Paris Gellar, I too get excited when staring down containers of creamy, cheesy macaroni. Unlike Paris Gellar, Jess Mariano did not deliver this to my friend's house while we were studying. But then, I also didn't need to call my Portugese nanny for permission to eat it, so I guess I win?
It was really hard to decide what kind of mac and cheese to make for this! There are tons of recipes and methods out there, all delicious, and it really came down to the kind of mac and cheese I think Luke would probably serve in his diner. It had to be simple to make, but gooey and cheesy, and be traditional, but maybe have a little something special about it too. And so, when I found a recipe that called for mixing together a pound of cheese, milk, and uncooked noodles and then baking to yield a super creamy, cheesy, and decadent casserole, I knew I'd found the answer. Because why would Luke want to spend time parboiling his pasta when he could just cook it all together in the oven? And the addition of cottage cheese in this recipe felt very Luke to me. He's always begging Lorelai and Rory to eat better, so why wouldn't he slip them a little cottage cheese on the sly, especially if it made for really great mac and cheese?
And, just in case you forgot about another infamous mac and cheese dish from the show, I've also included instructions for how you can turn this into Sookie's Jalapeno Chipotle Mac and Cheese. There won't be a cream sauce but it's still not likely to be enjoyed by children.
(If the noodles look a little toasted in these photos, well, apparently my oven heard my frequent complaints that it doesn't go above 400 degrees and decided to prove me wrong, with real enthusiasm!)
Easy, Creamy Mac & Cheese
Adapted from Julia Moskin. I changed up the cheese a bit and added some dijon mustard and breadcrumbs, for that little something extra.
- 1 tbs butter, plus more for greasing pan
- 1 cup cottage cheese (not no fat)
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp dry mustard powder
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 lb mild cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 lb elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9 inch baking dish or 2 loaf pans. Combine cheddar cheeses together in a large bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cheese and set aside.
- In a blender, puree the cottage cheese, milk, mustard powder, dijon mustard, and spices until smooth. Add to the bowl of cheddar cheese, add the uncooked pasta, and stir to combine.
- Pour pasta mixture into baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, covered with foil.
- Uncover the pan, stir the mixture around a bit, then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Melt the tablespoon of butter and stir into the breadcrumbs, then sprinkle mixture on top of macaroni. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until browned and bubbly. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
- For Sookie's spicy variation: sub half the shredded cheese for jack cheese. With the cottage cheese mixture, blend in 1 chipotle in adobo plus 1-2 tsps of the adobo sauce. Thinly slice 1/2 jalapeno, then dice up the remaining half. Add the diced jalapeno to the pasta mixture and bake according to directions above, then, when topping with cheese and breadcrumbs, add sliced jalapeno. I can't promise this will look as green as Sookie's mac and cheese, but it will definitely be spicy.