“All my kids’ ” Favorite Mac and Cheese

I watch Chef Gordon Ramsey…I love the man he is brutally honest, British, and can cook some badass food…please don’t make me choose between him and the Pioneer Woman. I won’t do it and believe in my heart someday they will cook together, I will be setting in the kitchen with them watching and tasting the food as they cook together. “Bloody Hell Ree, how much butter are you going to use?” He will ask in his accent. “I can’t help it…us Okies, we love butter.” She will drawl with her southern twang. I will giggle and sigh with happiness…they will turn and notice me, and then ask at the same time “Who the Hell are you and how did you get in?” I got the idea a couple of years ago to make risotto while I was at the grocery store, I had never tried it, and Chef Ramsey was always yelling at his Chef’s for messing it up, so I figured it was a challenge I must master. I got home with the rice and realized the first part to mastering risotto, would be buying the right kind of rice and not pasta, I had bought Orzo Pasta, which totally looks like rice. So I had pasta that I had no idea what to do with, but I found an easy recipe for it and made the kids eat my new rice. It was amazing, and is now requested by my niece, my youngest son and my son’s girlfriend on a regular basis…We call it Italian Mac and Cheese, or as my niece calls it “That one stuff you make with the cheese that I like”. I think if I made it for the Chefs before they could get security called they might even invite me to stay for dinner.


2 tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked Orzo pasta
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth or you can use water and chicken flavored soup base (I always have it on hand even when I don’t have a can of broth or chicken bullion will work)
1/2 cup grated FRESH Parmesan cheese ( You can not use the kind in a green plastic bottle…it will not work, buy the fresh and grate it yourself)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Basil (Fresh is best but dried works too, just decrease it to a teaspoon. If it’s summer buy a Basil plant and put it in your kitchen window, or on your porch, or better yet in your garden. I love fresh Basil)
salt and pepper to taste (if using the soup base it’s probably salty enough so taste it first)

Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in Orzo and saute until lightly browned. Pour in chicken stock, stirring and bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer until Orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 – 20 minutes. Sometimes I have to add a little more broth or water, so check it and if it looks like it’s getting dry and the Orzo isn’t tender yet, throw in a little more liquid. Mix in Parmesan cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to shallow bowl. If it is summer and you have a lot of fresh basil, garnish it with a few sprigs, it makes it look fancy and hard to make.

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