I am writing to ask (beg and plead, really) if I can get the recipe for gratin de macaroni made by Vin Rouge. I saw it on Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate - French Favorites," and it looked awesome!" - Michel Odom, Mobile, Ala.
No need to go on bended knee. Matt Kelly, executive chef at Vin Rouge, is happy to share the secrets of this deluxe French take on good old mac 'n' cheese.
Anyone who has had the good fortune to dine at Vin Rouge won't be surprised that the gratin earned the lavish praise of noted chef and Food Network star Alexandra Guarnaschelli in an episode that first aired in July. It's one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant, though Guarnaschelli might easily have singled out any number of the chef's faithful renditions of French bistro classics.
Kelly, who has worn the toque at Vin Rouge since 2003, is as modest as he is generous. "It's basically just a gratin," he said, "like you might see in the Alps region of southern France. We bake it in an enameled cast iron gratin dish in a 600 degree oven, which browns it nicely on the top and bottom. But most home ovens should work well, too."
The chef also says the quality of the ingredients is key. You don't have to cure and smoke your own bacon, as he does at the restaurant. But by all means get the best quality bacon you can find, and buy quality Gruyère and grate it yourself. And while you're at it, throw out that jar of ground nutmeg that's been sitting in the pantry forever, and spring for some whole nutmeg and a fine grater.
The result might not attract the attention of the Food Network, but it's sure to earn the praise of your guests.
Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, c/o The News & Observer or email firstname.lastname@example.org.