Wednesday, April 24, 2013

SLOW BOAT TO A GREAT MEAL

Matt Lauer isn't what's wrong with morning talk shows, it's the cooking segments that make me absolutely insane.  Here's the problem.  They book someone mildly interesting (and I don't mean Martha Stewart with her odd collection of birds, thatched pots and impossible tasks and treats), but someone like Giada, Ina Garten, Bobby Flay or my favorite, Christopher Kimball from Americas Test Kitchen on PBS (and author of the Cooks Illustrated series of books and magazines).  The morning shows are so packed with crap they rush the cooks through the most ridiculous bit of nonsense in as little time as possible..HERE, YOU HAVE THIRTY SECONDS TO SHOW US HOW TO MAKE BOTH THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS DINNER WHILE I, THE IDIOT HOST, TRY TO PRETEND LIKE I DON'T KNOW HOW TO WORK A BLENDER OR HOLD A SPOON!!!  I. Just. Can't. Stand. IT!  But, one morning while I was sipping coffee and cursing at the foolish hosts for being idiots, Chris Kimball was on promoting his slow cooker cookbook, the Slow Cooker Revolution(amazon for $14).  Here's one more reason why I love Chris (if you haven't seen his show, wait for a rainy Saturday and catch it on PBS or pick up any of his fantastic cookbooks...not only does he come up with incredible recipes, he tests everything from soups to pots and pans (hence...TEST KITCHEN).  Anyway, Chris just doesn't seem to care about anything but cooking.  Host rushing him along? Who cares?  He just stands there with his bow tie chatting away.  I bought Joe a slow cooker (crock pot) a few years ago as a joke and it's turned into one of our favorite kitchen tools.  Last weekend he made slow cooked short ribs (took about ten hours) and BOY were they delicious and did our house ever smell like heaven! Tonight I'm making macaroni and cheese.  The beauty in preparing a meal in a slow cooker is you can prep in the morning and most meals take 10-12 hours to slow cook while you're at work.  You walk in the door after an exhausting day with your co-hosts to a home smelling like heaven.
THE MAC DADDY OF MAC AND CHEESE:
Now Joe makes a homemade mac and cheese that will make you wanna slap yo mamma and move to Canada, so I can't say this one is better but it's pretty darn good! We have a Hamilton Beach cooker I bought at Target for $50ish.  I line it with foil and spray with vegetable oil so the macaroni doesn't burn (because slow cookers tend to have really hot sides that can burn).  So, here's what you do.  After prepping your slow cooker like I've mentioned above (fold foil and wrap around sides like a collar, not the bottom), simmer these items:
2/ 12 oz cans of evaporated milk
2/ 11 oz cans of condensed cheddar cheese soup (I used Campbell's)
2.5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Again, bring all items above to a simmer in a SEPARATE POT on your stove.  Then add...
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
LET THE CHEESE COMPLETELY MELT THEN add 1 pound elbow macaroni and stir.
Transfer this mixture carefully to your prepared slow cooker (might want to put a kitchen towel over one side because it splashes and is very, very hot)
COOK HIGH FOR TWO HOURS UNTIL MACARONI IS TENDER
REMOVE FOIL "COLLAR" AND GENTLY STIR PASTA, ADDING HOT WATER AS NEEDED TO LOOSEN SAUCE CONSISTENCY. SEASON WITH SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE. IF YOU LIKE AND HAVE ENOUGH TIME BEFORE THE HOSTS CUT YOU OFF, SPRINKLE WITH TOASTED BREAD CRUMB TOPPING.