I’m still working on finding a macaroni and cheese that Rich likes as well as the one’s from a) the blue box or b) the yellow box featuring the famous processed cheez food product; but made with everyday ingredients one doesn’t need a degree in chemistry to identify. This one came close, I think, tho’ Rich thought it kind of ‘bland’ (!?!) – yes, a bland mac and cheese casserole, who’d a thunk it?
I think maybe I undersalted – an old habit I am trying to break myself of – because a sprinkling of salt at the dinner table (not something we often do in this household) added a LOT to the flavor.
Irregardless, this was a nice (if a bit bland) recipe that is flexible enough to work with what you may have on hand. For example; I had some rotini pasta for a curried salad I’ve been wanting to try, a combination of Swiss, Tillamook Cheddar, and American Grana cheeses already shredded and stashed in containers in the fridge, and some French bread croutons in the freezer to use up. Perfect, no?
•2 tbsp butter
•2 tbsp flour
•1-1/4 cup milk, heated
•1/2 cup shredded cheese (Fanny Farmer calls for just cheddar)
•Cayenne (Ms. Farmer calls for ‘a pinch’ – I’d go at least 1/4 tsp)
•Salt and freshly ground pepper
•1/2 lb macaroni
•1/2 cup shredded cheddar
•1/2 cup buttered bread crumbs
•Ms. Farmer called for ‘fresh buttered crumbs’ – I went with ‘fresh from the freezer and called it even
Cook and drain the macaroni (don’t rinse it) and set it aside in a covered pot (stir in about 1/2 cup or so of the cooking water over to keep it from sticking together).
Heat the oven to 375º.
Make the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and then stirring in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, about two minutes, until the flour is cooked and the mixture bubbles a bit – don’t let it brown.
Whisk in the hot milk and stir until the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil, add the cheese, salt, pepper, and cayenne and cook for another two to three minutes.
Transfer the cooked macaroni to a well buttered casserole dish (use a slotted spoon to get rid of any extra cooking water) and pour the cheese sauce over. I thought this next bit was a neat trick: toss the macaroni and the sauce gently with a couple of forks to combine evenly.
Sprinkle the shredded cheese over all, and top with the buttered bread crumbs.
Bake, uncovered, for about thirty minutes – until the sauce is bubbling and the topping golden.
Just don’t forget the salt…