Macking with Murray’s: Murray’s Classic Mac & Cheese Recipe

Murray's Classic Mac

In our search for the elixir of life—AKA the perfect mac and cheese—we’ve tasted many-a recipe, and to paraphrase those Brooklyn bards, the Beastie Boys, we’ve been “working harder than ever, and you can call it macking.” At long last, our cheese alchemy has led us to THE ONE: a recipe we can’t keep secret, a dish so perfectly balanced and proportioned we must share it with you immediately!

#murraysmac

Murray’s Classic Mac & Cheese

Yield
Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Fontina Val d’Aosta, grated
  • 8 ounces Spring Brook Reading, grated
  • 6 ounces Comte St. Antoine, grated
  • 2 ounces Cabot Cheddar, finely grated
  • 1 half onion, skin removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • ½ clove garlic, grated
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut a slit into the halved onion and place a bay leaf in the slit. Stick the 2 cloves into the onion. Placing the milk in a saucepan over medium low heat and add the onion.

3. In a separate saucepan, make a Mornay sauce: melt 5 tablespoons butter and add the grated garlic. Slowly add the flour, whisking to combine, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the onion from the warm milk and discard. Ladle in the warm milk to the butter and flour mixture (called a “roux”), whisking constantly, until combined and smooth. Add the nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add 5 ounces Fontina Val d’Aosta and 5 ounces Spring Brook Reading. Then add 3 ounces Comte St. Antoine and whisk until well combined.

4. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add salt. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. Strain the macaroni and place into a bowl. Add the remaining grated cheeses and toss to combine.

5. Pour the Mornay sauce over the macaroni and toss to combine. In a small sauté pan, melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the Panko breadcrumbs, thyme, and lemon zest. Place the combined macaroni and cheese into a shallow baking dish and top with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes and serve right away.

frozen_mac_and_cheese

Not in the mood to cook? Check out our prepared mac and cheese, which comes in three insanely delicious flavors: classic plain, basil artichoke, and pulled pork. We’ll deliver dinner straight to your door…all you need to do it heat it in the oven and enjoy. Click here to shop Murray’s prepared mac and cheese.

Aging Gracefully: Growing Mold in the Cheese Caves

cave blog

By: Lizzie Roller

Most people know that Murray’s has caves where we age a wide variety of cheeses. But we would bet that only a few people really know what’s going on back there. So we talked to the man behind the curtain: Brian. He’s our cavemaster, and he’s here to tell you a little bit more about Murray’s caves, the 3 most important types of mold, and why patience is the greatest  of all virtues (when it comes to aging cheese, that is).

 Mold and Bacteria Farmers

Meet Brian, Murray’s Cavemaster—or, in his words—a mold and bacteria farmer. His day consists of a lot of ritual, mostly comprised of repetitive tasks that are a mix of old-world traditions and modern technology. Brian’s primary job is to maintain the cheese at its highest level. This encompasses patting and flipping the bloomies, washing the alpines and stinkers, flipping and brushing the natural rinds and, in general, cleaning the space and making sure everything is in tip top form. The timing of all of these activities is super important as well. The end goal of all these tasks is to keep the rinds happy, which is not as simple as it might seem.

Sporendonema CaseiSupercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Sadly this is not an actual type of mold. But there are tons of different molds that make up the micro flora of our caves: Sporendonema Casei, Chrysosporium Sulfereum and Geotrichum Candidum are just a few that help make our cheeses what they are. We dare you to say all of those five times fast! Brian’s favorite, the S. Casei, is a naturally occurring mold that is bright orange and brings with it flavors of damp forest and fresh mushroom.

Sci-art!
Brian stresses that affinage (the technical and French word for the aging or refining of cheeses) is a balancing act between art and science…or sciart. Brian explains that tasting the developing flavors all day and associating them to molecules and compounds can be very interesting. But at the end of the day you want to be moved by the product both emotionally and intellectually.

Playing Favorites
While most mongers would claim picking a favorite cheese to be a super hard task, our cave guru was able to make it happen. Brian equates this task to picking a favorite child…aaaaaand then he proclaimed that Greensward (our Cavemaster Reserve cheese created especially for New York City restaurant Eleven Madison Park) had stolen his heart. He loves it for the texture, flavor, and complexity. As he says, “his cheese is not only fantastic by itself, but can make any pairing look and taste good. Emotionally, working with it has had its up and downs, but totally worth it!”

natural rind caveMy Day Job is Real, Darn it!
We asked Brian about misconceptions people have with their jobs, and he pointed to the issue of affinage. What’s the issue of affinage? Brian explained that to him, a cheese cave should be built with the intention of a) maturing a product from a young age until it is almost ready for sale or b) enhancing the overall quality of the product if it already is somewhat matured. He explains that “the reality is that some caves are better set ups than others; some people say they have caves but are really just show rooms.”

Soooooo, What Do You Do?
Reactions when these Brian explains his job to others run from the mundane (“Cool…”) to the absurd (“So, you’re like a Cheese Warden? Like, you fondle rinds all day?”).

Above All Else
Working in the caves is a workout, a physically demanding job that at the end of the day leaves you reeking of cheese (Wondering what that smells is on the subway? Stop looking around, it’s you). But the one thing Brian says is the most important, as well as the hardest part of the his job, can be summed up in one word: PATIENCE.

Hanukkah Cheesin': The Forgotten Story of Curd and the Festival of Lights

Ed note: Loyal blog readers may remember this story from Hanukkah 2013. We’re republishing it this year because…well, because it’s an amazing story of how cheese saved the day, and we can’t get enough of those.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the “Festival of Lights” better than a big old wedge of curd. Every year, I make the schlep down to south Florida where the whole family gathers to enjoy a week of family time and fried food. And every year I brave the death-stares of fellow travels as I stink up the 3 hour flight with an insane amount of cheese stashed in my carry on. Although in my house I can’t guarantee that these treats will make it 8 days…48 hours would be a real miracle.

Until recently, I didn’t know that cheese, at one time, was part of traditional Hanukkah food celebrations. And just like any food tradition in the Jewish faith, there is a neat little story that will help us rationalize 8 days of gorging ourselves on some fantastic fromage. While this part of the Hanukkah story has become mostly forgotten in modern culture, it’s a great tale of heroism and the perfect excuse to munch on some curd, or gift a little wedge. It goes something like this:

Judith decapitating her enemy

Judith was a strikingly beautiful widow from the town of Bethulia in sixth century BC Israel. Her community came under siege, and annihilation looked inevitable. That is, until Judith came to the rescue. She put together a spread of wine and cheese and entered the enemy camp. The leader, Holofernes, was so smitten by her beauty, he couldn’t resist her offering of ripe cheese and intoxicating wine. He got bombed. I mean really, really drunk, like me at any Bar Mitzvah I have attended in the last 6 years. He was so wasted that Judith reacted in the most natural of ways: she stole his sword and cut of his head.

Jewish heroines really know how to bring the badass.

While this story takes place centuries after the Maccabees and their “Miracle of Light”, for many years it was incorporated into the Hanukkah celebration. Judith’s heroism was celebrated along with the Maccabees victory as an example of the perseverance of the Jewish people. But stories and cultures are not static, and this exciting tale has slowly been abandoned for the the modern Hanukkah story and celebration.

Torus

So, now that you know that it is not only acceptable, but encouraged that you get some cheese for Hanukkah, you might want a few suggestions for the platz-worthy wedge. The time and location that Judith’s story takes place would undoubtedly be a land full of goat and sheep milk cheeses. Allison Hooper, from Vermont Creamery, is what many consider the heroin of American goat cheese. She has helped to create the American market for goat cheese, and explored techniques and methods that have helped shaped a quality driven landscape of cheesemakers across the United States. Try some velvety and tangy Coupole or some fudgy and lemony Torus (and a dollop of their Crème Fraîche is a wonderful substitute for sour cream with your latkes). Nutty and grassy Ossau Iraty with a schmear of Seashore Honey will drive your great-aunts taste buds mashugganah, and a beautiful wheel of Cavemaster Reserve Hudson Flower will insure your eternal reputation as a real mensch.

One final piece of interesting cheese and Hanukkah knowledge. You know those potato latkes that Bubbie spends all day frying up? Potatoes were not brought over to Europe until the colonization of the American continent, but Jews had been making fried latkes for centuries. Guess what the original  latke was made of? You guessed it…CHEESE!

Regardless how you celebrate Hanukkah this year, Murray’s hopes it is a fun and full of friends and family. Here is to the festival of lights, and really good cheese! L’chaim, y’all!

8 Delicious Gifts for 8 Tasty Nights

Finding that perfect gift for Hanukkah is a task that drives the best of us meshugenah. So many different people to shop for, so many nights! Here are our top 8 picks for 8 super tasty Hanukkah treats!

epoisses_set_gift_2014

1. Epoisses

Perfect for that little sibling who’s really a stinker (I’m talking to you, sis). She made your parents proud with her law school, her perfect GPA, and her doctor boyfriend. Tell her how much she really stinks.

assortment_stilton_set_gift_20152. Stilton Crock

We’ve all got that terminally single, chronically depressed aunt who maybe overdoes it on the tranquilizers and vodka. Get rid of her blues with something blue. This classic English blue comes in adorable little crock!

chocolate_sweets_murrays_munchies_two3. Munchies

Forget about Gelt, give the kids something that they’ll actually want to win in this year’s dreidel games. Alternatively, keep these addictive candy bars for yourself and let the kids eat the crappy stuff.

oil_vinegar_due_vittorie_balsamic4. Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar

Dealing with the stress of the holidays (in-laws, anyone?) is enough to put any dad in a sour mood. Give him a gift with a flavor that’ll match how he feels! Due Vittorie is hands-down one of the best vinegars we’ve tried, with deep, bold red fruit flavors.

chocolate_sweets_salty_road_taffy5. Salty Road Taffy

We all have fond memories of Bubbie digging into the nether-regions of her pocketbook to pull out a chewy, decades-old wad of salt water taffy. Up her game with these small-batch confections, guaranteed to make her platz.

honey_jam_spreads_confiture_de_cerises_noires6. Black Cherry Confit

Even though she’s the maven of the guilt trip, your mother is still the sweetest woman in your life. Give her something equally as sweet! These cherries pair perfectly with a creamy brie, or make for an indulgent ice cream topping.

honey_jams_spreads_mikes_hot_honey7. Mike’s Hot Honey

You know that uncle that never shuts up? Here’s a way to get that trap closed, for at least a few minutes. While it might not be a permanent fix, you’ll be able to get a few words in. This honey is the perfect blend of spicy and sweet.

oil_vinegar_olive_oil_castillo8. Castillo de Canena Smoked Olive Oil

Grandpa’s olfactory might not be what it used to (hence the overwhelming smell of moth balls and Old Spice), so give him something he can actually taste! This flavor-forward olive oil has a nice smokiness that’s hard to miss!

For our other gift suggestions, be sure to check out Murray’s 2014 Holiday Gift Collections! And Happy Hanukkah!

Latke Grilled Cheese? Yes, Please!