I am a mac and cheese fanatic. If I see it on a menu when we go out I order it. And, it's hard for me to keep it off my home menu every week, but I try to mix it up a bit for variety.
I already had planned mac and cheese for the week, but I never know what kind until I get to the store. My shopping list directed me to "buy interesting cheese", and then I planned to craft the recipe from there. We use a lot of goat cheese, and it was on sale, so although it didn't quite fit the "interesting" requirement on its own, I had never tried it in mac and cheese. I wanted to add another ingredient, to make it more unique, and my first thought was bacon. I know...bacon was too predictable.
Then I flashed on our recent trip to Chicago, where our friends took us to the Calumet Fisheries. We had some really amazing food, standing outside, eating from the tailgate of the truck ! One of the items purchased was smoked salmon. So, I could still get the smoky flavor bacon would add, along with fish, like tuna hot dish (yes, I said hot dish. I live in Minnesota).
So, here it is, and it was truly extraordinary. I added spinach because, well, we had some.It added a nice textural component, and I could pretend it was a little more healthy...
2 cups elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
8 ounces smoked salmon
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 by 13 pan with non-stick spray and set aside. Start a large pot of water boiling for your macaroni, salt liberally. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and continue to stir until flour turns golden. Gradually add milk, and reduce to a simmer. Stir in spices. When milk mixture starts to thicken, add goat cheese and stir until melted. Gently fold in spinach and salmon, and remove from heat. Add macaroni to the water when it boils, and cook approximately 8 minutes until tender. Drain, and stir into the sauce. Pour the entire mixture into prepared pan, and sprinkle cheese and bread crumbs on top. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.