When Jeff Miller first went to the Culinary Institute of America, his eye was on a future as an American chef. But after he graduated in 1983, he found himself cooking in French and Italian restaurants--among them L'Orangerie, Valentino and Cardini in Los Angeles. Finally, though, Miller is cooking in an all-American restaurant. "I've returned to my roots," he says.
Now executive chef at Yankee Doodles in Santa Monica, Miller takes all-American dishes and gives them a modern California character. His version of macaroni with cheese is an example.
"I grew up with macaroni and cheese," he says, "but to the traditional recipe, I added Sonoma goat cheese for pungent flavor--it takes the edge off the creaminess of the dish." The garlic crumb topping was added to give the dish what he calls "extra punch."
YANKEE DOODLES' MACARONI WITH SONOMA GOAT CHEESE
2 quarts milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 pound small elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
6 ounces shredded Jack Cheese
1 (3.5-ounce) package Sonoma goat cheese, cut up
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups day-old bread, torn into small pieces
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Combine milk, salt to taste, cayenne and white pepper in large saucepan. Cook gently over medium heat until milk comes to simmer. Remove from heat.
Cook macaroni in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Melt butter over medium heat and whisk in flour, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Whisk in milk mixture until well blended. Simmer 4 to 5 minutes.
Over low heat, whisk Jack cheese and goat cheese into mixture, until cheese barely melts. Combine cooked macaroni with sauce, mixing well. Adjust seasonings to taste, then transfer to 2-quart casserole. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes.
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic at last minute. Cool mixture, then crumble coarsely by hand or in food processor. Toss with Parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle partially cooked macaroni with garlic bread crumbs and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
\o7 Note:\f7 For more goat cheese taste, add 1/2 to 1 more package. In the restaurant, the cooked macaroni and cheese is not baked but ladled into individual heatproof serving dishes, sprinkled with the crumb mixture and browned with a salamander or under a broiler.
Each serving contains about:
794 calories; 603 mg sodium; 74 mg cholesterol; 35 grams fat; 86 grams carbohydrates; 34 grams protein; 0.29 gram fiber.