I know that there’s a faction of readers out there that has probably had it up to here with blogs about fixing this and fixing that. If you don’t care about what might keep a diesel from starting, there’s not much I can do to make it more interesting. And god help you if you ever have to read another word about cutless bearings! I mean, seriously? However, almost everyone likes to eat and a bunch of you even like to read about food, so, here’s to you. Thanks for sticking by during all the mechanical folederol.
A couple of nights ago, after our obligatory three nights of pizza, we were discussing what else we might want to have for dinner. Now, even though I have a huge library of recipes on the computer, I don’t always know if Lulu wants to cook something from the list when it’s her turn to do the honors. So, I usually suggest old standbys such as the ever popular macaroni and cheese. She does make an awesome mac and cheese. However, during the discussion, she happened to mention pasta carbonara and went on to make the Pasta Carbonara ala Lulu that I reported on a few days ago. But, after we ate it and then had the leftovers the next night and then went out to eat at The Captain’s Club the next night, it was finally time to make something new. She decided on mac and cheese. It just so happens that I had read a couple of variations on regular mac and cheese on Serious Eats and asked if she wanted to try one. We talked about a couple of the recipes and finally decided that the one for Bobby Flay’s Macaroni and Cheese Carbonara sounded pretty damn good. So that’s what she decided to cook.
Of course, Bobby’s recipe called for things that just aren’t readily available here like pancetta, Asiago, Irish white cheddar, American cheddar, and fontini cheeses, as well as fresh thyme. So, we made adjustments as needed. You can follow the original recipe in the link above, but I’m going to show you Lulu’s adaptation on this blog.
The first thing you need to do is get a grasp on what the cooking conditions are here on Siempre Sabado. This is not some big ol’ yacht galley as I’m sure you already have figured out. But here’s a shot of what things look like when meal preparation gets underway.
As you can see, the only “counter space” is the top of the table. Other than that, there’s the stove top and the sink. That’s pretty much it. Well, there’s also the floor where some things have to sit while waiting their turn on either the stove or the table.
One of the things that is sort of a mixed blessing on Siempre Sabado is the location of the refrigerator. On most sailboats, the top-loading fridges are located smack dab in the middle of one of the counter-tops in the galley. So, when you need to get something out of the fridge after you start putting your recipe together, you invariably have to move a bunch of stuff out of the way (to where?) so you can open the fridge and get the butter you forgot to get before you started. Not so on the Westsail 28s. Nosirree, our fridges are conveniently located under the forward seat in the settee. So, as long as one of us isn’t sitting on the fridge when something is needed, the only thing disturbed is the cushion. It’s really much more convenient than I ever thought it’d be. Plus, those countertop fridges tend to extend all the way down to the bottom of the hull. It’s literally impossible to reach some small item on the bottom without having half your body inside the fridge. Our fridge may be a lot smaller, but we know everything that’s in there and nothing ever gets to hide from us until it turns into a blue fuzzball.
Here’s Lulu getting something or other out of the fridge midway through meal prep.
So, it may be small and doing the dishes when there are a lot of them can be an exercise in organization, but we love our galley and we both manage to turn out some downright edible dishes. Like this one for example:
And, served up with some fresh steamed green beans on the side, ooh-la-la…
So, here’s the recipe as Lulu prepared it, using things readily available here. Substitute at will for wherever you happen to be:
Macaroni & Cheese Carbonara (Lulu’s variation on a Bobby Flay recipe):
- Salted butter, for the baking dish
- 1 lb bacon, cut into small dice
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 5 cups whole milk, or more if needed, hot (she actually used Nido powdered milk)
- 4 large egg yolks, lightly whisked
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped dry thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated Queso Menonita Tipo Chester
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated Queso Chihuahua
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated Pepper Jack cheese*
- 1/2 cup “green can” Parmesan cheese, plus more for the top
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound shell macaroni, cooked just under al dente
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- set aside about a cup of the cheese mixture plus the extra Parmesan for sprinkling on top
Add the garlic to the fat in the pan and cook until light golden brown, 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk, raise the heat to high, and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the eggs until incorporated and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the thyme, cayenne, and all the different cheeses until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper.
Put the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, add the cheese sauce, bacon, and the parsley, and stir until combined. Transfer to the buttered baking dish.
Sprinkle the cup of reserved cheese evenly over the top. Bake until the dish is heated through and the top is a light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, unless you’re using an old CNG stove that has been converted to propane. In that case, you might want to double the cooking time. We love our stove but it’s a fact that it just doesn’t get all that hot. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
*Pepper Jack as well as Pepper Chester are finally available down here. What took so long? This is where they should have been invented!