Sunday, August 8, 2010
Mac & cheese
Mac and cheese was always a favorite in my family while I was growing up. We would have mac and cheese and green beans, and all of us kids would practically dance at the table. After I moved in with my husband I asked him if he wanted mac and cheese for dinner, but that it would take like an hour to make. He gave me a confused look and said, "um it comes in a box, why is it going to take an hour?". It had never occurred to him that people might make mac and cheese from scratch! I laughed, and explained I was not using a box. Then I made his world a better place with my mac and cheese.
start with boiling salted water. I use a stock pot, about 16 cups of water and 1 tsp sea salt. Once the water is at a rolling boil, I add the noodles. You want to cook these until they are almost done, but still firm when you bite it. This saves you from mushy noodles after its all baked. cook the noodles for about 6 minutes.
In another pan, put 3 tbsp butter.
Once the butter is bubbly, add 3 tbsp flour.
Stir together. We are making a roux for our cheese sauce.
Keep stirring, we don't want the roux to burn. it should be a light brown.
Add 1 1/2 cups milk, stirring constantly.
Whisk in 1 tsp sea salt. This should be smooth. If your sauce turned out lumpy, try whisking it for a bit, if that doesn't work, pour it through a strainer to get the lumpy flour bits out.
Add 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
If there are other spices you want in your mac and cheese, here is where you should add them. I sometimes add onions, dry mustard, or even some redneck pepper. Today I just used salt and pepper.
Whisk until smooth and thick.
This is my secret ingredient. Velveeta cheese. It makes the cheese sauce creamy and smooth and adds a salty goodness that you cannot achieve any other way.
Plop the Velveeta into the sauce, and melt completely.
Yummy cheese sauce!
Drain your elbow macaroni and toss it back into the pot it was cooked in.
Pour all of the cheese sauce over the elbow macaroni.
Stir so all the noodles are coated with cheesy goodness.
This is my cheese grater. I want a real food processor to grate and chop, but I don't have one, so its grating cheese by hand time.
I like to use 3 different cheeses. (4 if you count the Velveeta)
Use whatever cheese you like.
This one is a medium cheddar.
Toss the cheese together.
(this is when I pout at my husband that I want a food processor for Xmas)
Speak of the devil! There he is getting caught stealing cheese again!
In a large, greased, casserole pan spoon the first layer of noodles.
On top of that a layer of cheese...
mm mm cheese...
Another layer of noodles.
And more cheese.
Repeat until all the noodles and cheese are gone, or until your run out of room in your dish.
This is my mini food processor.
It's itty bitty. Plus, no cheese grating attachment.
But it works great for making goldfish crumbs!
If you don't have a food processor, place your goldfish in a zip lock bag, and beat them to death with a rolling pin or pan or something. It's a great way to get through some aggression!
Pour the goldfish crumbs over the top of the mac and cheese.
This is about 1 cup of goldfish crumbs.
Now the best part of mac and cheese, is you can prepare this the day before. Just stick it in the fridge.
Throw it in the oven the next day for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
It's a beautiful thing.
If you have never had mac and cheese from scratch, make it now. I mean it. DO IT.
The crackers give it a terrific crunch on top, and the cheesy goodness needs to be shared!
Salted water for pasta
1lb elbow macaroni
1/2 lb Colby jack
1/2 lb medium cheddar
1/2 lb Monterrey jack
10 oz Velveeta
3 tbs butter
3 tbs flour
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tsp sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
1 cup goldfish crumbs.
In a large pot boil 16 cups of water with 1 tsp salt. while water is getting hot, melt 3 tbs butter. when bubbly, add 3 tbs flour. Whisk together to make a roux. Add milk. Whisk until smooth. add salt and pepper. chop the Velveeta into chunks, add to milk mixture and melt completely. Drain pasta, put back into pan. pour cheese sauce over macaroni and stir to coat. Grate the rest of your cheese. toss together. layer noodle mixture and cheese, alternating until all of the pasta and cheese is gone. Sprinkle goldfish crumbs over the mac and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until bubbly.
Makes 10 servings.