February 16, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese

oven ready

baked macaroni and cheese

I did not grow up with homemade macaroni and cheese, and if it was part our meal it was from a box.  My father preferred potatoes over noodles-- a common side dish was thickly sliced potatoes cooked in a cast iron pan slicked with a good amount of oil and cooked until softened.  
My husband's desire for this dish opened my eyes to this wonderfully delicious dish. It symbolizes comfort food in my home. 

4 slices sandwich bread or whatever kind of bread you would like to make into crumbs ( I use stale dinner rolls, wheat bread, etc.) It measures around 1-1/2 cups.
2 T butter, melted

Put bread in a food processor and pulse until bread breaks down to fine crumbs.
Add butter and pulse until combined.  Set aside.

Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
6 T butter
1 medium pressed garlic clove
1 t dry mustard
1/4 t cayenne pepper
6 T flour
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
3 1/2 cups whole milk
16 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded 
or any cheese combination that suits your tastes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 400 degrees Farenheit. 
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a dutch oven over high heat. 
Add the macaroni; cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. 
Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander; set aside.
Wipe the pot dry if still wet. Add the butter and return to medium heat until melted.
Add the garlic, mustard, and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. 
Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk; bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until large bubbles form on the surface and the mixture is slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. 
Off the heat, whisk in the cheeses gradually until completely melted. 
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir, breaking up any clumps, until well combined. 
Pour into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and sprinkle with the bread crumb topping. 
Bake until golden brown and bubbling around the edges, approximately 20 minutes. 
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

This dish freezes well. Defrost and cook as directed.


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