MACARONI & CHEESE
Macaroni & cheese is something that I remember eating when I was growing up, something that was always so simple, but yet so tasty. It was always out of the box, cooking the pasta first and then adding in the powdered cheese mixture to turn everything into that bright orange-yellow before putting it in a bowl and eating it up. This time, I set out to make mac & cheese from scratch.
~ 2 cups elbow macaroni
~ 4 tbsp butter
~ 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
~ 1 tsp salt
~ 1/2 tsp pepper
~ 1.5 cups milk
~ 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
~ 3 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
~ 1 tsp yellow mustard
The timing of everything is always a little tricky, especially since you’ll be making both the cheese sauce and the macaroni at the same time. You want to ensure that you don’t dry out the macaroni if it gets done early, but I had this happen and it didn’t affect the end product much since the sauce rejuvenated all of the macaroni pasta afterwards. To start things off, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Cook the macaroni to the package’s instructions and while you have that going, take 4 tbsp of the butter and melt that in a medium saucepan at medium heat. While it’s melting, mix together the flour, salt, and pepper, and once the butter fully melts, add in the dry mixture gradually. You might be tempted to just melt the butter on high to speed things up, but don’t do it; you’ll burn the butter as well as the flour mixture and that won’t result in a very tasty cheese sauce at all.
Once you’ve finished with that, gradually add in the milk and then cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it’s there, take the cover off and stir it until the mixture thickens (you can physically feel it if you’re stirring it with a spoon) and then lower the heat back down to medium. At this point, you’re ready to add in your cheese, so go ahead and stir that into the sauce until everything is smooth. Add in your bit of mustard and continue stirring for a bit more. Once that’s good, you’re ready to assemble the product. Put the cooked macaroni into a baking dish (casserole dish should be fine, but I used a 11.5″ x 8″ baking dish and it turned out great) and then pour the sauce over it. Mix everything up and then sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly onto the top of the macaroni. Throw the dish into the oven for about 25 minutes. After the timer rings, switch the oven over to broil, and do that for about 5 minutes to crisp up things on the top. Take a look below for the finished product:
The mac & cheese is not your creamy mac & cheese type (although you can modify the recipe to that by adding a half cup more milk to the sauce) but rather more of having the elbow macaroni pasta absorb the cheese flavor and the breadcrumbs giving you a little crunchiness in your bite. This is just a basis of a mac & cheese recipe, and it’s not too hard to make. However, you could always modify it to suit more of your personal taste. Sometimes experimentation in cooking yields the best results! Happy cooking!