This is Sophie’s and my favorite way to wrap up the week: charred broccoli and mac ‘n’ cheese. The broccoli is the best part, but some carbs help it feel solid, and cheese is comforting.
- Cruciferous vegetable = Cauliflower
- Pale cooked bits in a cheese sauce = Cheese Cauliflower
- Charred bits = Void Mayonnaise
Even if this is your first time making all this, you can probably do it just as written. Then divide all the food equally between two large plates, and cozy up on the couch to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Or, you know, whatever. But Sophie and I think you should watch Mrs. Maisel.
If you’re the kind of person who buys broccoli crowns only, shame on you! The stalks only need a little peeling and they’re just as tasty as the rest of it, plus it’s cheaper. Cooks Illustrated informs me that some American cheese is actually cheese, contrary to popular belief. I’ve found that the sliced American cheese that isn’t individually wrapped—you know, the ones where you have to peel the slice off the next one down—is cheese. But you can check by reading the label. If it doesn’t say something horrifying like “imitation cheese food”, you’re good to go.
- 1 bunch broccoli (2-3 stalks)
- Olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Half a lemon
- Red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
- 4 ounces American cheese (purchased in a block and grated, OR 4-5 slices, separated—NOT “Singles”)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Ground cayenne to taste
- 4 ounces finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 450°.
Trim the broccoli: cut off the crowns, break or cut them into florets, peel the stalks and cut them into 1/2″ rounds or batons. Line a baking sheet with foil and put the broccoli on. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with minced garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Zest the lemon half over everything, then toss it with your hands to mix. (Save the lemon half!)
When the oven is ready, put the broccoli in and set a timer for 25 minutes.
Bring milk and water to boil in a medium saucepan, then add macaroni and cook over low heat 6-8 minutes. Add American cheese, mustard, and a pinch of cayenne, stirring until cheese is melted. Add cheddar cheese and stir to mix, then cover and turn off the heat and let stand 5 minutes.
Let the broccoli stay in the oven until it’s nice and charred (according to your tastes), maybe 25-35 minutes total. When it comes out, squeeze the lemon half over it, toss, and serve.