|Bob, Greg and fire|
|sorry to my vegetarian friends: pulling the pig|
with Greg (please check out his gloves),
Tammy and Bob
|3 pans of pig before sauce|
|neighbors in our classy tent city|
Somehow by the time I showered and dried my hair (a very unnecessary step as it turns out), the rain showers were falling. We don't rent a pretty white party tent. It never rains. Ha. We still won't rent a tent, but we might round up a few more tailgate tents before the next one. Light rain and chips are a very bad combination. Light rain and my hostess high gear don't mesh well either. The rain stopped pretty quickly and everything was better. The pig was absolutely delicious this year. Think they boys have really got the hang of it. This year's pig was 97 pounds and barely fit in the roaster. I salt and season the pig (seasoning from Shoup's who sells us the pig) and every now and then check in with the roasting (usually about 4-5 hours). The boys tap the keg before the pig hits the roaster, so I'm kind of the DD for the pig. You know, you see a lot of smoke and head over to raise the lid and check the thermometer to find it maxed out at 600 degrees F. Might be time to suggest the lid remains open a while. This year Bob brought out his flat screen and an HD antenna (very cool) and they watched the US Open golf so between golf and beer and the occasional neighbor passing by you might worry. Greg had it under control, however. About four and a half hours this year and all the temperature checks verified the pig was indeed ready to come of the heat and be pulled. We don our thick rubber gloves and pull, sort and shred the pork. Many years we've still been pulling pig when the party started. Never too sure how long we'll be roasting. This year we were actually ahead of schedule. Nice whenever that happens (and if I'm throwing the party, that's not often).
|a big batch of guacamole takes a lot of avocados|
|ready to smush|
|size comparison with watermelons|
|yes, this was all gone|
Searched my blog today and surprised myself by finding I have never posted my often mentioned famous mac and cheese. Shocking. To make sure Kelly and Sara always had something to eat at a family party or pitch-in, I started making big trays of mac and cheese. A Cooking Light recipe is the basis of my version, but I have not looked at a recipe in years so this one is truly mine. If you can go with the flow on adding a little more of something to suit your taste, you'll be fine with this recipe. This recipe is for a great big double batch for a party, but you can easily halve it for a family meal.
Here's the key to the whole thing: you melt butter in a saucepan and then you add an equal measure of flour and stir to make a roux or thick paste, do not let it brown unless browned butter is the flavor you desire. When I make a little batch for lunch I just use about 2 T of butter and 2 T of flour. When I make a batch for a party it's 8 T of each. The next step is whisking in milk: for a little batch start with about 1 1/2 C of milk (sometimes it's a little milk and the rest chicken broth for a more savory flavor especially if I'm not adding a lot of cheese for a "light" version) for the party batch I started with about 2 C of milk. Keep whisking until it's nice and thick. Do not let it boil over and keep stirring so it doesn't stick to the bottom of your pan. Turn down the heat and add your seasonings and stir in the cheese to melt. Then add more milk or broth as desired to coat your macaroni. So for my lunch version I'm probably done after the 1 1/2 C milk. For a party version I'm probably adding a total of 4 C of milk. And if I do it ahead, I'll add another cup or so when I'm reheating. You can serve it from the pan or you can spray a baking pan and pour it in the pan (make sure to add enough milk unless you like it firm and dry and there's nothing wrong with that) and then get super fancy and melt some butter, add some panko/breadcrumbs to brown a bit and spread that across the mac and cheese before you bake it.
I just got off skype with Kelly from Vienna. She longs for macaroni and cheese. Yesterday they were walking lovely Vienna and passed a KFC when she thought she saw a poster for mac and cheese in the window. She said her pulse quickened and she got so excited but soon realized it was a dish of corn. There are KFC's everywhere (there was one at our subway stop in Tokyo) and they keep checking, but have yet to find mac and cheese in Europe. She has found plenty of other wonderful things to eat and has taken lots of pictures to show her mom. So, this post is for Kelly. I promise a big pot of mac and cheese the minute you walk in the door in August.
Mac and Cheese for a Party
8 T unsalted butter
8 T flour
4 C milk
1 1/2 t salt
1 t freshly ground pepper
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t paprika
1 t Coleman's dry mustard
4 C grated cheese (sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, jack cheese any mixture you like)
2 pounds elbow macaroni (I use one box of whole grain and one box of regular from Barilla with the ridges or rigate)
So, I pretty much explained this in the proceeding paragraphs but cook your elbow macaroni as directed on the package. Be sure to use a generous 2T of salt for 2 pounds of pasta. Make your roux by melting the butter over medium heat and then whisking in the flour until you've made a nice paste. Do not brown. Turn up the heat and whisking continuously add the milk starting with a cup and a half or so. When this thickens, lower the heat and whisk in the seasonings (salt through mustard). Whisk in another cup and a half of milk until smooth. Stir in the cheese with a spoon (or a whisk, but cheese can get stringy and mix that with all the wires of the whisk and clean-up is not too fun) until smooth and melted. Stir in the elbows. Add more milk if desired. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve warm from the stove or pour into a big greased serving pan and keep warm in the oven (cover with foil). To be fancy, before serving melt another 2 or 3 T of butter in a pan and add a generous cup of panko/breadcrumbs and toss until lightly browned. Sprinkle over mac and cheese any time during the heating or holding in the oven (heat at 350 degrees, hold at 275). If you put the panko on top, do not cover with foil. Keep the golden crumbs crispy.
|melted butter with flour to make a roux|
|whisking in the milk (this is skim milk and look how rich the sauce becomes)|
this is also how you make bechamel sauce (now you know)
|added the spices|
|stirring in the cheese|
|elbows ready for their shining moment|
|this is what mac and cheese for a party looks like, it looks delicious and bountiful|