Orzo Mac and Cheese Bar
Complex executive chef Thomas Horner
Westin and W Bellevue
Setting up stations at a catered event encourages interaction. At the Westin and W hotels in Seattle, executive chef Thomas Horner stages a mac and cheese bar, offering a variety of toppings so guests can customize this all-time favorite. He opts for rice-shaped orzo instead of macaroni, and uses the risotto cooking technique to turn the pasta into a creamy base.
Orzo mac and cheese
6 qt. chicken stock
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions or shallots
8 garlic cloves, minced
4 lb. orzo
1 tsp. salt
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups shredded cheddar or other cheese
Ground black pepper, to taste
Sauteed sliced mushrooms
Cooked sausage, slices or crumbles
Rendered bacon lardons
Sauteed rock shrimp
Sauteed asparagus tips
1. In large saucepot over medium heat, bring stock to a simmer. Reduce heat and keep warm.
2. In large, wide skillet over medium-low heat, heat oil. Add onions or shallots and cook until softened. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Stir in orzo and salt, coating orzo with oil as you stir to toast slightly.
3. Stir about 2 cups stock and some white wine into orzo. Slowly stir and cook until orzo absorbs liquid. Continue to gradually stir in stock and wine, letting orzo absorb almost all the liquid, until it is creamy but still al dente.
4. Stir in cheese until melted; season with pepper. Transfer orzo to a warming pan and set out with each topping option in a separate vessel.
Photo courtesy of Barilla