Mac and cheese for adults

October 22, 2008 1:51:01 PM PDT
For most of us mac and cheese is a reminder of growing up -- especially when it came from a blue and white box. But quite a few restaurants are making their own, homemade mac and cheese. And these new versions are geared more for adults. ABC7's Hungry Hound has found a few. You'll find a decadent, three-cheese version at Table 52, while other restaurants have been experimenting with penne pasta instead of the traditional elbow macaroni. This American invention has gone upscale and now it seems like everyone is offering their own take on a childhood favorite.

Just try making a mac and cheese like the one at Flight Wine Bar in The Glen - a planned community in North Suburban Glenview.

"This mac and cheese is the richest, heartiest mac and cheese you're going to have this winter," said Brian Beverly, Flight Wine Bar.

That's because in addition to a hearty bechamel sauce, there is the addition of duck confit.

"It takes about four days total, if you want to do it to the extent that we do it. We cure it, take all the moisture out of it, for two days," said Beverly.

Those duck legs are immersed in sugar, salt, fresh rosemary and garlic and after two days, they're rinsed and slowly cooked.

"Then we poach it in duck fat, overnight for about 10 hours; then we let it sit and we pull it," said Beverly.

And that pulled duck meat is heated in a skillet with a bechamel, containing butter, flour, milk and white cheddar. Then the elbow macaroni goes in, along with some fresh chives. At the very end, a bit of white truffle oil is added to give the dish another component of richness and aroma.

In Lincoln Park, chef Ryan Poli has his own take on the classic side dish at Perennial, which sits directly across from the Green City Market.

"We think the demand for it, with the amount of mac and cheese we sell a night, would be a disaster if we took it off the menu," said Ryan Poli, Perennial.

Poli's version begins with orrechiette pasta - shaped like tiny ears - which are boiled with vibrant green edamame beans. He combines them with a sauce containing sharp and mild cheddar, plus creamy fontina. The result has been a hit since they opened.

"We decided to go with the orrechiette pasta because I feel the ear-shaped kind of scoops up the cheese a little bit better and edamame just kind of a great crunch to it," said Poli.

Two other notable versions include the comfort classic at MacArthur's on the West Side and the Oozy Crock at Stanley's in Lincoln Park.

Flight
1820 Tower Dr., Glenview
847-729-9463

Perennial
1800 N. Lincoln Ave.
312-981-7070

Also mentioned:
MacArthur's
5412 W. Madison
773-261-2316

Stanley's
1970 N. Lincoln Ave.
312-642-0007


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