Ok, so my in laws from Varkaus Finland are here. My home is a mess of “football” or as we Americans say soccer and Savo, an accent named for region of Finland from which it comes. Those in Helsinki, would have that it is a mild garbling of their beautiful language. But not so bad as what they speak up there in Rauma. Hear that Rauma, learn to talk civilized Finnish! ( I must point out, I should have said speak not talk.) I am only kidding Rauma. You all speak far better Finnish than I do. I have only been taught the mandatory words such as kiitos (please/thank you,) moi (hello/goodbye,) olut (beer,) and of course your infamous P word. You all know the one you like to shout when ever you stub your toe. I will pretend here that I am too polite to say it. But you know the word I mean. Beyond those words and only a few dozen more I am entirely useless with the Finnish language. So Rauma, you do have at least me beat.
So, in my kitchen often I play music. Last night It was lots of Finnish Kantele music and of course some old folk stuff from the Kalevala, and a bunch of more modern Finnish folk music. Here is a video to help illustrate the backdrop. In my little eclectic kitchen I was making an old favorite from Boston. Very common for those Boston BBQs. Not even unheard of for the fourth of July. I chose this time to make it, because every time we go to Varkaus, my in laws make a Finnish macaroni casserole. So, I made a related dish, Boston style.
Here is the recipe, for five cheese Boston Mac and cheese. It is quite simple. A brief list of the ingredients:
The first step, is to of course grate all the cheese. Make a special pile for the Parmesan, the rest just mix together in a big bowl once they are satisfactorily grated. This is the perfect time to begin boiling your macaroni water. Add your salt to the macaroni water.
In a medium saucepan, put your butter on low to melt. You will slowly add to it the flour and the half and half cream, and eventually, you will add 4 ounces of your pile of Parmesan which you have put to the side. Slowly, turn up the heat to medium. Mix the mixture till it thickens and becomes smooth. Usually takes about 2 to 5 minutes.
While, you are working on the sauce pot with butter, Parmesan, your flour, and half and half, make sure to boil your macaroni elbows in your pot of boiling water. You don’t want to boil them too much, just start the cooking process. You want them to be still somewhat hard, about half cooked. Strain the macaroni in a strainer and get as much water out as you can. Then, pour your cream and butter sauce into your pasta and mix well in order to cover all the pasta. I recommend using a very big pot for the pasta given the amount of creamy sauce you will be adding and the amount of pasta you will be cooking. Make sure all pasta is coated in your sauce.
In a casserole dish, (we like to use one made of red clay ceramic, we think it adds something to the flavor,) but any casserole dish will suffice. Layer your macaroni covered in your creamy mixture in three layers. Put down your first layer, and then add a liberal layer of cheese from your bowl of cheese after you have mixed in the remainder of your Parmesan. Add a second layer of macaroni and a second liberal layer of your grated cheese from your bowl of mixed grated cheeses. Repeat one final time, then pop it into the oven for about 40 to 45 minutes. The top should be becoming a bit golden brown. Take it out and serve. We usually get several days worth of dinner side dishes out of this recipe.
I have had a great time making this for friends from all over the world. They all love it and many have variations of it in their own homelands.
Enjoy your dinner!