Macaroni and Cheese

April 20, 2010 · 14 comments

in pasta,vegetarian

I’m not one of those people who’s on the search for “the best” macaroni and cheese.  Don’t get me wrong, I love macaroni and cheese, and would like nothing more than to be a professional taste-tester for every version, but it’s just not feasible for me to make something like this even remotely frequently.  The second I start shredding cheese and melting butter, my thighs expand.

So when I find a good recipe for things like this, I stick to it.  And that’s what happened with this recipe.  It’s creamy, it’s delicious, it has a nice crunchy baked topping. It’s my go-to macaroni and cheese recipe.

I don’t make any substitutions to health-ify this dish.  It’s rare for me to make something as carb/fat dense as this, but what the hell.  It’s fine every once in a while, right?  Well, okay, technically I used the Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend because it was in my fridge, but that’s it.   Not even whole wheat pasta! My husband was shocked to see enriched elbow macaroni in our kitchen.  He actually asked me “how many cals” he was eating (because every once in a while he counts calories for about 2 days and stops)…but then he also asked why I wasn’t adding bacon to it.  Hmm.

Full fat mac and cheese and all, I did want to keep my portion to a minimum, so I made this with some barbecued chicken and a salad.  I cut the recipe in half, which still yielded quite a bit. I wouldn’t say it’s 10 servings, but it’s definitely 8ish (for more of a side than a main dish).

I did add some dry mustard to the sauce (because I feel like macaroni and cheese needs a little) and switched out the Parmesan for Pecorino Romano because that’s always what I keep in my fridge.  It’s sharper and I just love it.

Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted from Gourmet

For topping
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup panko or 1.5 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from 3 slices firm white sandwich bread)
2 oz. coarsely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese

For macaroni and sauce
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2.5 cups whole milk
8 oz. coarsely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 (heaping) tsp. dry mustard
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni

Preheat the oven to 400 and place a rack in the middle.  Grease a shallow 2 qt. baking dish.

To make the topping, melt the butter and then stir together with the panko, 2 oz. cheddar and 1/4 cup romano cheese until well combined.

To make the sauce: melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat, and then stir in the flour.  Cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes, and then slowly whisk in milk.  Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking frequently, and then simmer, whisking occasionally, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in cheeses, salt, pepper, and dry mustard until smooth.

Meanwhile, cook macaroni in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente.   Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water and then drain macaroni.

Stir together the macaroni, reserved cooking water, and cheese sauce.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the macaroni and cheese and bake until golden and bubbling, 20-25 minutes.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen April 20, 2010 at 11:01 am

I discovered this recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook back in November when I was choosing recipes for 68 Days of Gourmet. I’m on recipe 62 now and this mac and cheese is probably one of the top three things I’ve made from Gourmet! I’ve been singing its praises for the last few months. Excited to see that it’s one of your faves too! Yum, yum!

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bridget April 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

Hey, with a new baby, you totally deserve some comfort food. (Hm, if it means I get to eat more mac and cheese, I totally want to get knocked up now…) But, you should check out the squash mac and cheese recipes that are around. Totally delicious but not nearly as indulgent, they’re my new favorite way to eat mac and chz.

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Peter April 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Mama-Elly, this mac n’ Cheese looks as advertised…noted – must try this.

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beth April 20, 2010 at 1:28 pm

That must be my problem – I make it far too often!! But it is one of the best comfort foods around. This looks divine

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Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul April 21, 2010 at 1:27 am

I agree…infrequently is the best. But this does look soooo good!

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Joanne April 21, 2010 at 5:32 am

Every once in a while, a splurge is required. Gotta cash in on the calorie bank checks! Especially with something as dreamy as this.

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Cara April 21, 2010 at 8:07 am

mmm, so nice to splurge on that every once in a while!

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bellini valli April 21, 2010 at 9:24 am

I made meatloaf the other day but I would have to say that macaroni and cheese is my true comfort food. Your version is so creamy and cheesy just the way I like it.

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Maria April 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I am a sucker for macaroni and cheese (only the homemade kind though) and this sounds great. I agree, it’s not something you should skimp on when making this dish, so eating it a couple of times a year is probably enough!

I swear I am ready to whip out a pot and start cooking this but I will wait til tomorrow ;)

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Anna A April 21, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Hmm I like that you’re sticking to the real deal. I’ve never actually made mac n cheese homestyle before and that’s partially due to the confusion on so many recipes. Good to know this is elly approved!

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Mary April 26, 2010 at 9:43 am

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Juliana April 26, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Your mac n cheese sure looks yummie…so creamy and rich :-)

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fieryirishangel0403 May 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

Mmm, my favorite food! Your pictures of the dish are making my mouth water, so I’m sure I’ll be giving it a try soon!

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