Monday, February 08, 2010

Recipe Week: Homemade Mac & Cheese

I only get to visit my sister about once a year, but every time I've ever visited her, she's asked me to make macaroni & cheese. This is also the comfort food I make and deliver to new moms. And last night I brought half of it to a "Super Bowl" party (we didn't actually watch the game) and put the other half in my chest freezer for enjoyment later this month. I've made my mac and cheese so many times I can't remember the last time I consulted a cook book. That said, I'm sure this recipe owes something to the Joy of Cooking.

1 lb elbow noodles or pasta shells
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp each mustard powder, paprika
2 cups milk
Up to 4 tbsp cream cheese (optional, but worth it)
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
optional: fresh bread crumbs, seasoned salt and garlic powder

Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. When the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook until barely al dente. Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium-high heat until foamy. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two. Add spices and whisk in the milk. Cook, whisking frequently until the milk mixture thickens (this can take a while). Once it's thickened, turn off the flame and stir in the cream cheese, if using, and all but 1/3 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until melted. Drain the cooked pasta and combine with the cheese sauce. Pour into a greased 9X12 inch pan or two smaller casserole dishes. Top with shredded cheese and breadcrumbs, seasoned salt and garlic powder, if desired. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Earlier in Recipe Week