Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Grown Up Mac N Cheese

Cold weather is here, and stomachs all over are crying out for comfort food. I challenge you to find something more comforting than mac & cheese. It's got everything your body needs to prepare for winter hibernation: cheese, pasta, cheese, butter, cheese, bread, milk, and...did I mention, cheese? Toss out that blue box. I give you REAL macaroni and cheese.
Here's the recipe I snipped and glued into my utterly unorganized recipe binder. I'm guessing that it's from an issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Don't quote me on that.
Cheese. A giant mound of it. Four different types, to be exact. The recipe called for over a pound and a half of cheese: 18 oz. of sharp cheddar and 8 oz. of Gruyere. I used the recommended 26 oz., but they were not just cheddar and Gruyere. I added some smoked Gouda and some Mexican string cheese. Oh, yes. It worked out nicely. I do recommend shredding your own cheese when making this. Pre-shredded cheeses just don't have the same texture. It's the truth, just ask me.

For a crumby topping, cube 5 or 6 slices of bread. I imagine day old bread would be better than fresh. You'll toss the cubes with melted butter. Mmmm. More cholesterol. More tasty.

To begin a REAL cheese sauce, we start by making a roux. Equal parts fat (butter) and flour. This is where the sauce gets saucy.

Nice soft sauces achieve a smooth texture with constant whisking. I totally marked up the bottom of my dutch oven with this metal whisk. Oopies!

Pour in the milk a little bit at a time. Whisk whisk whisk to prevent clumping. Clumpy sauce is a no good sauce.

Time for some spice! Salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Don't you dare buy pre-ground nutmeg. Buy a whole nutmeg nut and grate it yourself. Not only is the flavor more intense and fresh, but it's fun to grate. Indeed.

Pretty, spotty spices. The roux is ready for the cheese.

More stirring until the cheese melts.

In goes the already cooked macaroni.

There is a sliiiiiiiight issue with this recipe, I found. Too much sauce and not enough macaroni. Look at them. They are drowning! I cooked up some more pasta (roughly 1/2 - 3/4 cup dry) and tossed in enough to make it look substantial. Worked like a charm.

Top off the dish with the last bit of cheese and the butter soaked bread cubes, and get ready to bake.

Tada! Enough delicious to feed many, many hungry people! The recipe makes a TON of very tasty REAL macaroni and cheese. A sure winner at any carry-in dinner. I promise. Enjoy!


  1. I don't even like cheese and this is making my mouth water. You saucy lady, you

  2. This looks fantastic! I like to use a recipe by Alton Brown (it's the first recipe that pops up in the "Mac and Cheese" Google search). It uses ground mustard--I think it gives it a nice rich flavor.