12 Drinks of Christmas: Day 1! Artisanal Cheese & Rum in Macaroni & Cheese with Rum Manhattan Inside!

Welcome to that annual 12 Drinks of Christmas where every day you will find a different spirit featured with recipes and perhaps food pairing or recipes that work well with that spirit and hopefully incorporate that spirit. This round-up has been running for at least 5 years and it gets more interesting every year. So check back every day through January 2, 2012 for a different drink to test-drive.

This is a guest post from Barrie Lynn, the Cheese Impresario
A Surprising Pairing: Artisanal Cheese & Rum: Wisconsin Artisanal Gouda & Fontina Macaroni & Cheese with a Rum Manhattan Cocktail Inside and a Maraschino Cherry on Top By Barrie Lynn
by Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresariohttp://www.thecheeseimpresario.com/

Ingredients are everything!

The Artisanal Cheeses

Carr Valley Cheese Company – LaValle, Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker – Sid Cook
Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker, Sid Cook, is a rock and roll star in the world of artisanal cheese. Sid is the most awarded cheesemaker on the planet…a fine artist whose medium is cheese. He is the fourth generation that’s rocking out with the amazing milk and terroir from the green rolling hills and glacier action in his pristine part of the world. Some call him “The Jimi Hendrix of Cheese.” Sid’s Fontina Cheese is a beautiful soft white cheese with great meltability. The nutty, fruity, buttery flavor profile of this cheese will be evident, as you taste it, setting it apart from the Gouda and the cocktail inside.

Holland’s Family Farm – Thorp, Wisconsin Cheesemaker – Marieke Penterman
Raw Milk Foenegreek Gouda – Cow

This handmade farmstead Gouda is made from Marieke’s traditional Dutch recipe with her family farm’s fresh raw cow’s milk. This cheese is then aged on Dutch pine planks four to six months to develop a creamy, nutty flavor. Aging makes Holland’s Family Farm Goudas very different from most American Gouda-style cheeses, which are usually sold very young.

The Cocktail Inside:

The Rum
English Harbour 5-Year – Antigua, West Indies

Voted by “Forbes Magazine” one of the 10 most remarkable rums in the world. English Harbour 5-Year is the youngest rum on this list. It has a polished copper hue and aromas of smoke, cherry, orange rind and burnt sugar. On the palate, ripe apple, coconut and hints of cinnamon are followed by sweet coconut and spice. This is a complex, medium-bodied, mature rum with a long, smoky finish.

The Vermouth:
Carpano Antica Formula – Italy
This artisanal Sweet Vermouth is made from the Carpano distillery’s “ancient formula” for red vermouth. Only recently available in North America, Carpano Antica Formula is the king of red vermouth: although traditionally served straight up as an aperitif, after-dinner drink, or even as an accompaniment to rich desserts, it will transform a common Manhattan or Red Martini into a cocktail fit for even the most refined palate. I love it in this Rum Manhattan.

The Cherries:
Luxardo Maraschino Cherries – Italy
These little gourmet cherries will make a big difference in every cocktail they touch. Each jar contains ridiculously delicious, all-natural whole, pitted cherries, candied with Marachino syrup. Luxardo is a premium name in mixology, known for excellence in creating infused liqueurs. The family has perfected the cocktail cherries – transforming them from a garnish to an essential ingredient that kicks ordinary drinks into overdrive. An exclusive Italian import by Preiss Imports, they’ve been used by top pastry chefs around the globe for years. If you really care about your cocktails, you’ve just go to try these incredible cherries

1/2 pound dried elbow macaroni
1 La Brea Bakery French Baguette
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons rum, divided
2 ounces sweet vermouth
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups (6 ounces) Wisconsin Fontina Cheese, grated and divided
2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) Wisconsin Foenegreek Gouda Cheese, grated and divided
1/2 cup (about 6 ounces) maraschino cherries

Directions:Preheat oven to 300°F.
Butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.

Fill a large pot with water; bring to a boil and add macaroni.
Cook the macaroni to very, very al dente, three minutes fewer than package instructions.
Drain and rinse macaroni with cold water. Drain well. Place macaroni on cloth kitchen towels to absorb excess water. Set aside and let cool.

Cut 1/3 of a baguette into 1-inch thick slices. Place bread slices on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 7 minutes. Flip bread slices over and bake additional 7 minutes. The bread should be dried out.
Place dry bread slices in a food processor and pulse until you have medium sized breadcrumbs.

In medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of rum; stir to combine.
Add bread crumbs and sauté 1 minute, remove from heat, set aside and reserve for topping.

In a heavy saucepan combine 1 1/4 cups rum and vermouth (this is the Rum Manhattan!) Add milk. Cook over medium heat to piping hot, but not boiling.

In a separate saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. When it begins to bubble, add the flour; stir continuously for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the mixture.
Slowly add the piping hot milk mixture to the flour mixture. Stir with a whisk; continuing to cook 5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken.
Remove from heat and add salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.

Slowly add 1 cup Fontina Cheese and 2 cups Gouda to the mixture, whisking to combine until all the cheese is incorporated and melted.
Add the cooled macaroni to the cheese sauce; stir gently to coat the noodles.

Pour the luscious cheese mixture into the buttered casserole dish.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Rinse cherries and pat dry on a paper towel. Place the cherries on top of the Macaroni & Cheese; pushing each one into the casserole just a bit.
Sprinkle the top of your creation with the remaining Fontina and Gouda.

The final touch is topping the macaroni & cheese with the rum butter breadcrumbs.
Place the macaroni & cheese on the middle rack in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes (don’t open the oven).
When the cheese mixture is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, your amazing macaroni & cheese is ready to come out of the oven.

Stir up a batch of rum manhattans, pour and serve with your “Wisconsin Artisanal Gouda & Fontina Macaroni & Cheese with a Rum Manhattan Inside and a Maraschino Cherry on To” to the cheers of your family and friends.

**The Rum Manhattan Cocktail:
2 ounces of English Harbour 5-Year Rum
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica Vermouth
Maraschino cherries, for garnish
Combine rum and vermouth in cocktail shaker with ice; stir to combine.
Pour into glass, add a maraschino cherry or two or three and enjoy!

Ed Hamilton, The Ministry of Rum

Holland’s Family Farm – Marieke’s Gouda

Check out the educational show CHEESE RULES with Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresario is all about cheese and pairing cheese with all kinds of beverages.

Thank you to Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresario/ for this post. It sounds delish!

Stevie Wilson,

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