Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recipe: Homeroom Smoky Bacon Mac

Ready to go in the oven with breadcrumbs!  Yum!
For today's recipe post, I'm pulling again from the Homeroom cookbook.  This time, it's the Smoky Bacon Mac.  I made this dish for my parents recently and was excited to try something other than the Gilroy Garlic Mac from their cookbook.

This recipe calls for (I kid you not) a full pound of bacon.  That's a lot of bacon.  When you consider that each recipe makes about four servings, that means that each serving should have a quarter pound of bacon.  So, of course I was thrilled to make this dish.

The recipe also called for one cup of grated smoked cheddar and one cup of grated jack cheese.  I picked up a locally farmed smoked cheddar and a Clover organic Monterey Jack.

I learned a fun tip from the cheese expert at Whole Foods while I was shopping.  A quarter pound of chunk cheese will get you approximately one cup of grated cheese.  That's some knowledge to keep in your back pocket!

My smoked cheddar and Monterey Jack
There really wasn't much to this particular recipe other than whipping up the béchamel sauce as usual and then melting the cheese and massive amount of bacon in with two cups of the sauce.  It was pretty easy to make.  No special flavors to add or compound butters to make.  The experience of making it was pretty awesome, though. I could really smell the smokiness of the cheddar right away.  I had a feeling it would turn out pretty great.  Or, at the very least, smell great.

Because of my increased interest in preparing homemade mac and cheese lately (hmmm, I wonder why... haha), I decided to try something that the Homeroom chefs explicitly frown upon in their book: I used a reduced fat milk for my béchamel sauce.  Cue horrified screams.

I thought to myself, "Hey, the cheese is already pretty creamy, maybe the lower fat content in the milk won't matter." 

I'm not going to say that it drastically changed the texture of the cheese sauce, but I will say that I am now definitely in agreement with the Homeroom chefs that a whole milk béchamel sauce provides a much creamier texture than a reduced fat milk béchamel sauce.  I could tell almost instantly when I finished cooking the sauce, even before I added the cheese, that it wouldn't be as rich as some of my previous attempts with whole milk.

So, how did the overall mac turn out?  Not bad.  Definitely not as good as the restaurant quality, but not bad.  I would be really interested in finding out what smoked cheddar Homeroom uses at their restaurant.  There were actually a few choices for me, but I went with a local California cheese because I thought the softer texture would melt easier than the two salty English style choices I had.

And, for the record, we ate ALL the bacon.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: Momo's

760 2nd St, San Francisco

Hey Giants fans!  Looking for some mac and cheese before or after the game?  Well, if you've ever been to AT&T Park in San Francisco, you've probably passed by a pretty popular restaurant and bar called Momo's.  On game days, this place is always packed.

Just this past weekend, I was at the park to pick up my Giant Race runner's packet (10k, yeah!), and then stopped into Momo's for lunch.  It was very quiet compared to what I'm used to seeing, but the bar area was still amusing since there were some rather drunk USC fans and the USC v. Stanford football game was playing on all the TVs.  I was careful not to let my support of Stanford shine too brightly around the drunk USC guys, but overall it was just kind of funny to watch their chagrin whenever they didn't like a referee's call.

Looking forward to my first bite
Originally, I thought I would get a flat bread pizza, but then I noticed they had their own version of mac and cheese on the menu.  In my continued effort to expand my local mac and cheese knowledge and recommendations, I decided to order it.

Momo's version is probably the densest, creamiest and heaviest mac and cheese I've had yet.  In fact, almost too much so.  The heaviness of its sauce is probably the only thing keeping it from making my Top Ten.  I couldn't even finish it, it was too filling.  However, if I had to pick between too creamy and not creamy at all, I'd probably choose the former.

The flavors included gouda, cheddar and small pieces of Black Forest Ham.  I really enjoyed the ham since it felt like a mix between the usual kid classic cut-up hog dog and the crowd-pleasing bacon options that you usually see in mac dishes.  The gouda flavor seemed to be overpowered a bit by the cheddar.  I'm not sure that I would normally pair those two particular cheeses together.  Cheddar, depending on the type, can have a pretty strong flavor on it's own.  While gouda also has a strong flavor, it just seemed to be a bit stomped out by the cheddar in my particular serving.

It just looks so fun!
One thing I really loved about Momo's version is the overall look of it.  The large corkscrew noodles poking out every which way, surrounded by an abundance of ham bites and sprinkled with delicate breadcrumbs just made the dish feel fun and spontaneous.

So, if you ever find yourself by the ball park and are looking for something other than the typical game day hot dog, try Momo's Mac and Cheese.  Let me know what you think!