The Cheese Thing

This is very good. I recommend you add it to your repertoire. The instructions from the author are so detailed about what to do and what not to do, I can’t add anything but the request that you try this.

Okay. If that this dish is very tasty isn’t enough of a reason, it’s National Cheese Lover’s Day today. This would be a great way to celebrate. There.

Get together the ingredients. This is pretty much all you’ll need.

Tomatoes, butter and cheese.

Tomatoes, butter and cheese.

Other than pasta.

Pasta.

Pasta.

Cook the pasta.

Cooking the pasta.

Cooking the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Not too much to do really…
cube the cheese.

Cubed cheese.

Cubed cheese.

When the pasta’s cooked, drain it and add the butter.

Drained pasta.

Drained pasta.

Mix all the ingredients together.

Toss the cheese, tomatoes and sugar plus salt and pepper together with the cooked pasta.

Toss the cheese, tomatoes and sugar plus salt and pepper together with the cooked pasta.

Put it in the fridge overnight if you can, then bake it.

The Cheese Thing.

The Cheese Thing.

Initially, I found the recipe in Cook Something by Mitchell Davis, 1997, but you can find it here: http://www.cookandeatbetter.com/

The Cheese Thing

My mother has been making this dish for so long, you’d think it would have a real name by now. “Cheese Thing” doesn’t really do it justice, what with the gooey, crispy melted cheddar and tomatoes and crunchy noodles, but that’s all we’ve ever called it. It is the ultimate comfort food.

Cheese Thing is good to eat at every stage—sitting on the counter raw waiting to bake, hot out of the oven, or reheated in a frying pan for breakfast the next day. Although it can be made in a matter of minutes, it’s best if it sits for a few hours or overnight before baking.

1 pound (500 g) penne rigate, ziti, rigatoni, or other tubular pasta, preferably cut on a diagonal (so it browns), and ridged
8 ounces mild cheddar
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, without basil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon sugar

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente according to the package. Better to under cook than to over cook, as the noodles will continue cooking in the oven.

Meanwhile, cut the cheddars into 1/2-inch cubes or smaller. Don’t grate. the cubes melt into puddles of bubbling cheese. Also don’t try to use all medium cheddar or all of one or the other. The two different, mild and old, cheddars melt differently so the texture and flavor of the finished dish is more interesting.

Now, do as my mother did and insert a small, sharp knife into the can of tomatoes to cut the whole tomatoes up into bits with the juice.

When the pasta is done, drain well but do not rinse. Return it to the hot pot. Add the butter and stir until the butter is melted and coats the noodles. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cubed cheese and stir to evenly distribute. Don’t worry if it starts to melt. Add the cut up tomatoes with their juice and the sugar and mix well. Transfer to a rectangular 2-quart baking dish or casserole. Don’t flatten the noodles on top, rather, let the ends stick up to create an uneven surface. This will encourage browning.

I find the dish best if you now cover it and let it sit a few hours or a day in the refrigerator, so the noodles soak up some of the tomato juice, but you can also just bake it right away and it is delicious. Set the dish in a preheated 400°F. oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the top is brown nicely browned. Don’t worry if some of the noodles look burnt. These are the ones people will fight over. Let sit for 10 minutes, if possible, before serving. Enjoy. Serves 1 to 8.

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