Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham
Source of Recipe
From "The Southerner's Cookbook" by the editors of Garden & Gun
"In 1789, Thomas Jefferson returned from France with a handwritten recipe for Nouilly a maccaroni (macaroni noodles). Later, as president, Jefferson would serve White House diners a butter-laden macaroni casserole. The Virginia Housewife, published in 1824, included the first recipe for macaroni and cheese to appear in print in the United States. The book's author was Mary Randolph, a relative of Jefferson's. Her sentence-long recipe called only for noodles, cheese, butter, and a sprinkling of salt. While those are still the basic ingredients, Southern chefs have had plenty of time to refine the formula. One of our favorites is the gussied-up version on the menu at the Inn at Little Washington, a resort neatly situated between Washington, D.C., and Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Aged Gouda cheese, which has the consistency of Parmesan, and savory Virginia country ham give this variation a luxurious depth of flavor. It might not be what Jefferson or Randolph would recognize, but don't be surprised if it becomes your new favorite."
List of Ingredients
◦ Kosher salt
◦ ¾ pound dried elbow macaroni or your favorite tubular pasta
◦ 1 tablespoon olive oil
◦ 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
◦ 1 teaspoon minced garlic
◦ 1 tablespoon minced shallot
◦ 2 cups heavy cream
◦ ½ cup freshly grated aged Gouda cheese
◦ ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
◦ Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
◦ Freshly ground black pepper
◦ 2 slices Virginia country ham, finely julienned
◦ 2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for about 6 minutes, until half-done (the interior will be slightly raw). Drain, put the pasta in a bowl, and toss with the oil to keep the macaroni from sticking together. Allow the pasta to cool.
In a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and shallot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to let them brown. Add the cream, bring to a rapid boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cream has reduced by one quarter and coats the back of a spoon.
Whisk in the cheeses and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cooked macaroni and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to warm through. When ready to serve, garnish each portion with ham and chives.